[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transgenic mice with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) driven by the rhodopsin promoter (rho/VEGF mice) develop neovascularization that originates from the deep capillary bed of the retina and grows into the subretinal space. In rho/VEGF mice, VEGF expression in photoreceptors begins between postnatal days 5 and 7, the period when the deep capillary bed is developing. An important question is whether or not the developmental stage of the deep capillary bed is critical for occurrence of neovascularization. Also, although rho/VEGF mice are extremely useful for the study of ocular neovascularization, there are some applications for which the early onset of VEGF expression is a disadvantage. In this study, we used the reverse tetracycline transactivator (rtTA) inducible promoter system coupled to either the rhodopsin or interphotoreceptor retinoid-binding protein (IRBP) promoter to control the time of onset of VEGF transgene expression in photoreceptors. In the absence of doxycycline, adult double-transgenic rho/rtTA-TRE/VEGF or IRBP/rtTA-TRE/VEGF mice showed little VEGF transgene expression and no phenotype. The addition of doxycycline to the drinking water resulted in prominent transgene expression and evidence of neovascularization within 3 to 4 days. Like rho/VEGF mice, the neovascularization originated from the deep capillary bed of the retina, but it was more extensive and caused outer retinal folds followed by total retinal detachment. Real-time polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay demonstrated that the mice with inducible expression of VEGF that developed retinal detachment had much higher ocular levels of VEGF mRNA and protein compared to rho/VEGF mice that manifest a much milder phenotype. These data demonstrate that regardless of developmental stage of the vascular bed, increased expression of VEGF in the retina is sufficient to cause neovascularization, and high levels of expression cause severe neovascularization and traction retinal detachment. Mice with inducible expression of VEGF in the retina provide a valuable new model of ocular neovascularization.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2002 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proteolysis of vascular basement membranes and surrounding extracellular matrix is a critical early step in neovascularization. It requires alteration of the balance between matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and proteins that bind to and inactivate MMPs, tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs). TIMP-1 has been demonstrated to inhibit neovascularization in chick chorioallantoic membranes. However, TIMP-1 has also been shown to either promote or inhibit cell proliferation and migration in different settings. To determine whether genetic alteration of the MMP/TIMP-1 ratio would alter retinal neovascularization, we crossed mice that express vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in photoreceptors with TIMP-1-deficient mice or mice that overexpress TIMP-1. Compared to VEGF transgene-positive/TIMP-1-sufficient mice, VEGF transgene-positive/TIMP-1-deficient mice showed smaller neovascular lesions. There was also no difference between the two groups of mice in the appearance of the neovascularization by light or electron microscopy. Compound VEGF/TIMP-1 transgenic mice had increased expression of both VEGF and TIMP-1 in the retina, and had more neovascularization than mice that had increased expression of VEGF alone. These gain- and loss-of-function data suggest that alteration of the TIMP-1/MMP ratio modulates retinal neovascularization in a complex manner and not simply by altering the proteolytic activity and thereby invasiveness of endothelial cells.
No preview · Article · Feb 2001 · Histology and histopathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Following chronic ischemia, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is induced primarily in the ganglion cell layer of the retina. This often results in neovascularization (NV) that originates from the vascular bed closest to the ganglion cell layer. To study the effects of VEGF, independent lines of transgenic mice that express VEGF in the lens and in the retina have been generated. Expression in the lens results in excessive proliferation and accumulation of angioblasts and endothelial cells in proximity to the lens. However, VEGF expression is not sufficient to direct blood vessel organization or maturation in the prenatal mouse. Abnormal vessels do form on the retinal surface, but not until the second postnatal week. In transgenic mice expressing VEGF in the photoreceptors, NV originates from the deep capillary bed--the vascular bed closest to the photoreceptors. NV is accompanied by localized blood-retinal barrier breakdown. NV is also induced in PDGF-B transgenic mice. PDGF-B expression in the lens occurs prenatally and, during this time, mainly affects the perilenticular vessels. Postnatally, transgenic mice expressing PDGF-B in the lens or photoreceptors show a similar phenotype. In both models, a highly vascularized cell mass containing endothelial cells, pericytes, and glia forms in the superficial retina, and the formation of the deep capillary bed is inhibited. The phenotype suggests that an additional factor is necessary for the maturation and penetration of vascular endothelial cells into the retina to form the deep capillary bed.
No preview · Article · Dec 2000 · General Pharmacology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is upregulated by hypoxia and is a major stimulatory factor for retinal neovascularization in ischemic retinopathies such as diabetic retinopathy. This study sought to determine if VEGF is a stimulatory factor in a murine model of choroidal neovascularization (CNV).
Mice with laser-induced ruptures in Bruch's membrane were treated with vehicle alone; a drug that inhibits both VEGF and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptor kinases; a drug that inhibits PDGF, but not VEGF receptor kinase; or genistein, a nonspecific kinase inhibitor. After two weeks, CNV was quantified and compared.
Blockade of phosphorylation by VEGF and PDGF receptors caused dramatic, almost complete inhibition of CNV. Genistein also had an inhibitory effect, but less so than the VEGF/PDGF receptor blocker. Blockade of phosphorylation by PDGF receptors, but not VEGF receptors, had no significant effect on CNV.
These data and our previous study, which demonstrated that a kinase inhibitor that blocks VEGF and PDGF receptors and several isoforms of protein kinase C causing dramatic inhibition of CNV, suggest that VEGF signaling plays a critical role in the development of CNV in this model. If safety is established, the effect of inhibiting VEGF receptor kinase activity should be investigated in patients with CNV.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Expression of platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-A and PDGF-B is increased in patients with proliferative retinopathies in which traction retinal detachments occur. Previous studies have demonstrated that increased expression of PDGF-A in the retina of transgenic mice results in retinal gliosis due to proliferation of astrocytes with different retinal phenotypes based on the time of onset and location of the PDGF-A production. In this study, we investigated the effects of PDGF-B in the retina using gain-of-function transgenic mice that express PDGF-B in photoreceptors. These mice show proliferation of astrocytes, pericytes, and, to a lesser extent, endothelial cells, resulting in ectopic cells on the surface and extending into the retina. The sheets of cells exert traction on the retina resulting in traction retinal detachments similar to those seen in humans with proliferative retinopathies. These studies suggest that PDGF-B has more dramatic effects in the retina than PDGF-A, because it acts on additional cell types, in particular on pericytes, which have a highly developed contractile apparatus. These studies in the retina suggest a means that could be used in other tissues throughout the body to achieve graded PDGF effects. They also provide a new model of traction retinal detachment that can be used to investigate new treatments for patients with proliferative retinopathies.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2000 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retinal vasculogenesis and ischemic retinopathies provide good model systems for study of vascular development and neovascularization (NV), respectively. Vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF) has been implicated in the pathogenesis of retinal vasculogenesis and in the development of retinal NV in ischemic retinopathies. However, insulin-like growth factor-I and possibly other growth factors also participate in the development of retinal NV and intraocular injections of VEGF antagonists only partially inhibit retinal NV. One possible conclusion from these studies is that it is necessary to block other growth factors in addition to VEGF to achieve complete inhibition of retinal NV. We recently demonstrated that a partially selective kinase inhibitor, PKC412, that blocks phosphorylation by VEGF and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) receptors and several isoforms of protein kinase C (PKC), completely inhibits retinal NV. In this study, we have used three additional selective kinase inhibitors with different selectivity profiles to explore the signaling pathways involved in retinal NV. PTK787, a drug that blocks phosphorylation by VEGF and PDGF receptors, but not PKC, completely inhibited retinal NV in murine oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy and partially inhibited retinal vascularization during development. CGP 57148 and CGP 53716, two drugs that block phosphorylation by PDGF receptors, but not VEGF receptors, had no significant effect on retinal NV. These data and our previously published study suggest that regardless of contributions by other growth factors, VEGF signaling plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of retinal NV. Inhibition of VEGF receptor kinase activity completely blocks retinal NV and is an excellent target for treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy and other ischemic retinopathies.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2000 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Retinal astrocytes are located in the nerve fiber layer and along retinal blood vessels and have been hypothesized to participate in the induction and maintenance of the blood-retinal barrier. Platelet-derived growth factor-A (PDGF-A) is normally produced by retinal ganglion cells and is involved in astrocyte recruitment and proliferation. We used gain-of-function transgenic mice that express PDGF-A in photoreceptors to explore the roles of PDGF-A and astrocytes in the retina. Transgene-positive mice developed glial infiltration of the inner retina and had significantly less oxygen-induced retinal vascular closure and no neovascularization compared with littermate controls, which had prominent vascular closure and neovascularization. The increased survival of endothelial cells in transgenic mice in the face of oxygen-induced down-regulation of vascular endothelial growth factor was accompanied by an increase in astrocyte-derived fibroblast growth factor-2. Therefore, PDGF-A increases retinal astrocytes, which promote the survival of endothelial cells as well as their expression of barrier characteristics.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2000 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the relative level and localization of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP-4 mRNA in the retina and retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) under normal and pathologic conditions, to seek clues regarding possible functions.
Clones isolated from an RPE cDNA library were sequenced and used as probes for northern blot analysis. Expression in the retina and RPE was investigated in mouse models using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and in situ hybridization. The effect of recombinant proteins on RPE proliferation was investigated by thymidine incorporation.
Bovine clones with high homology to BMP-2 and BMP4 were isolated from a subtracted RPE cDNA library. Northern blot analysis using the clones as probes demonstrated abundant and differential expression in adult bovine RPE, but with RT-PCR and in situ hybridization, expression was also demonstrated in mouse retinal neurons. In mice with oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy there was a striking decrease in BMP-4 mRNA in the retina within 6 hours of the onset of hypoxia that was maintained for at least 5 days. In mice with inherited photoreceptor degeneration, there was a dramatic decrease in BMP4 mRNA in retina and RPE during and after the degeneration. mRNA for the type II BMP receptor was observed in freshly isolated and cultured RPE cells, isolated retina, and freshly isolated bovine aortic endothelial cells. Thymidine incorporation in early-passage RPE cells showed a 14-fold stimulation above control with 5% serum that was decreased to 322%, 393%, and 313% in the presence of BMP-2 (10 ng/ml), BMP4 (10 ng/ml), and transforming growth factor (TGF)-,1 (2 ng/ml), respectively.
BMP-2 and BMP-4 may serve as negative growth regulators in the retina and RPE that are downregulated by injury, to allow tissue repair. Modulation of expression of the BMPs may provide a means to control the exaggerated wound repair that occurs in proliferative retinopathies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neovascularization (NV) causes visual deficits in ocular disorders such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration, and retinopathy of prematurity. An understanding of the angiogenic factors promoting this abnormal vascular growth is necessary to devise a therapeutic approach to inhibit NV. One factor known to promote NV is vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which can also induce a breakdown of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB) leading to macular edema, another major cause of visual loss in a variety of ocular disorders. To investigate the role of VEGF on ocular NV, transgenic mice have been produced that over-express VEGF in the photoreceptors under control of the rhodopsin promoter. Eyes from these mice and from littermates not expressing the transgene were examined using immunohistochemistry, griffonia simplicifolia isolectin-B4 (GSA) staining to clearly visualize vessels, and electron microscopy. Levels of transgene expression were determined by the polymerase chain reaction. In normal mice, retinal vessels are organized into a superficial and a deep capillary bed with some vessels forming a shunt between both beds. In a transgenic line of mice that over-expresses VEGF (V-6), NV originates from the deep capillary bed at about postnatal day 10 (P10) and extends through the photoreceptor layer to form vascular complexes in the subretinal space with BRB breakdown occurring only in the area of NV. The superficial capillary bed and the choroidal vasculature are unaffected. In another line of transgenic mice with a higher expression rate of VEGF (V-24), photoreceptor degeneration begins at P7-8, soon after the onset of transgene expression, without widespread NV, as was observed in V-6 mice. In conclusion, overexpression of VEGF in transgenic mice is sufficient to cause retinal NV, but only the deep capillary bed is responsive. Increasing the expression of VEGF does not necessarily increase the amount of NV. A better understanding of the specific factors and conditions that result in a particular pattern of ocular NV may provide clues regarding the pathogenesis of ocular neovascular disease.
No preview · Article · Feb 2000 · Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The most common cause of new blindness in young patients is retinal neovascularization, and in the elderly is choroidal neovascularization. Therefore, there has been a great deal of attention focused on the development of new treatments for these disease processes. Previous studies have demonstrated partial inhibition of retinal neovascularization in animal models using antagonists of vascular endothelial growth factor or other signaling molecules implicated in the angiogenesis cascade. These studies have indicated potential for drug treatment, but have left many questions unanswered. Is it possible to completely inhibit retinal neovascularization using drug treatment with a mode of administration that is feasible to use in patients? Do agents that inhibit retinal neovascularization have any effect on choroidal neovascularization? In this study, we demonstrate complete inhibition of retinal neovascularization in mice with oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy by oral administration of a partially selective kinase inhibitor that blocks several members of the protein kinase C family, along with vascular endothelial growth factor and platelet-derived growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. The drug also blocks normal vascularization of the retina during development but has no identifiable adverse effects on mature retinal vessels. In addition, the kinase inhibitor causes dramatic inhibition of choroidal neovascularization in a laser-induced murine model. These data provide proof of concept that pharmacological treatment is a viable approach for therapy of both retinal and choroidal neovascularization.
Full-text · Article · Jul 1999 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mice or humans with photoreceptor degenerations experience permeability and dropout of retinal capillaries. Loss of photoreceptors results in decreased oxygen usage and thinning of the retina with increased oxygen delivery to the inner retina. To investigate the possibility that increased tissue oxygen plays a role in the vascular damage, we exposed adult mice to hyperoxia, which also increases oxygen in the retina. After 1, 2, or 3 weeks of hyperoxia, there was a statistically significant decrease in retinal vascular density that was not reversible, and endothelial cell apoptosis was demonstrated by TUNEL staining. Mice exposed to hyperoxia and mice with photoreceptor degeneration both showed decreased expression of VEGF in the retina. After complete or near-complete degeneration of photoreceptors, there was increased expression of VEGF in RPE cells, which may explain the association of photoreceptor degeneration and neovascularization in or around the RPE. Increased expression of VEGF in photoreceptors of transgenic mice failed to prevent hyperoxia-induced retinal capillary dropout. These data suggest that increased oxygen in the retina, either by increased inspired oxygen or by photoreceptor degeneration, results in endothelial cell death and dropout of capillaries. Decreased expression of VEGF may be a contributing factor, but the situation may be more complicated for mature retinal vessels than it is for immature vessels, because VEGF replacement does not rescue mature retinal vessels, suggesting that other factors may also be involved.
No preview · Article · May 1999 · Journal of Cellular Physiology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the mechanism of blood-retinal barrier (BRB) dysfunction in human and experimental specimens using immunocytochemistry.
Extravascular albumin was localized in clinical specimens and retinas from transgenic mice that overexpress vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the photoreceptors. Transgenic mouse retinas were also labeled with Griffonia simplicifolia isolectin-B4 (GSA), a lectin that binds to endothelial cells.
The BRB is established by the presence of tight junctions between the retinal vascular endothelial (RVE) cells and the RPE cells and by a paucity of intraendothelial cell vesicles. When BRB breakdown occurs in human ocular disorders such as diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, or cystoid macular edema, staining for extravascular albumin reveals leakage through the tight junctions, an upregulation of intraendothelial vesicles, and permeation of RVE or RPE cells that have undergone degenerative changes. VEGF, in addition to inducing neovascularization (NV), promotes vascular leakage. In VEGF transgenic mice, BRB failure is confined to the outer retina, the area where NV occurs. GSA binds to the luminal and abluminal surfaces of RVE cells in new and established vessels and to intraendothelial vesicles and interendothelial cell junctions in areas of vascular leakage.
BRB dysfunction may be mediated by leakage through the tight junctions of RVE or RPE cells, by trans-endothelial vesicular transport, or by permeation of RVE or RPE cells that have undergone degenerative changes. GSA may be a useful marker to assist in recognizing open tight junctions and an increase in intraendothelial cell vesicles, which are indicative of BRB failure.
No preview · Article · Feb 1999 · Documenta Ophthalmologica
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor composed of HIF-1alpha and HIF-1beta subunits. HIF-1 transactivates multiple genes whose products play key roles in oxygen homeostasis, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This study was designed to determine whether HIF-1 levels are increased in ischemic retina and whether there is a correlation with increased expression of VEGF.
C57BL/6J mice were killed at time points that span retinal vascular development (PO to adult), or on postnatal day (P) 7 they were placed in a 75% oxygen environment for 5 days and then removed to room air and killed after 0, 2, or 6, or 24 hours and 5 or 14 days. Eyes were frozen, and retinas were isolated and used for immunoblot analysis, or eyes were sectioned for immunohisto chemical staining for HIF-1alpha or HIF-1beta, or for in situ hybridization for VEGF.
Immunoblots of retinal lysates showed low levels of HIF-1alpha at PO that were markedly increased at P4, remained high throughout the period of retinal vascular development and then decreased to an intermediate level in adults. HIF-1beta levels were relatively constant at all time points. In mice with oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy, HIF-1alpha levels were increased in the retina. The peak of increase occurred at 2 hours, and levels returned to baseline by 24 hours. Immunohistochemistry showed increased staining for HIF-1alpha throughout the hypoxic inner retina, but not in the normoxic outer retina. There was no modulation of HIF-1beta levels. There was constitutive expression of VEGF mRNA in the inner nuclear layer that was increased 6 hours after the onset of hypoxia and remained elevated for several days.
There are increased levels of HIF-1alpha in ischemic retina that show temporal and spatial correlation with increased expression of VEGF. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that HIF-1 plays a role in upregulation of VEGF in ischemic retina.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: PURPOSE. Hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) is a transcription factor composed of HIF-1 alpha and HLF-1 beta subunits. HIF-1 transactivates multiple genes whose products play key roles in oxygen homeostasis, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). This study was designed to determine whether HIF-1 levels are increased in ischemic retina and whether there is a correlation with increased expression of VEGF. METHODS. C57BL/6J mice were killed at time points that span retinal vascular development (P0 to adult), or on postnatal day (P) 7 they were placed in a 75% oxygen environment for 5 days and then removed to room air and killed after 0, 2, or 6, or 24 hours and 5 or 14 days. Eyes were frozen, and retinas were isolated and used for immunoblot analysis, or eyes were sectioned for immunohistochemical staining for HIF-1 alpha or HIF-1 beta, or for in situ hybridization for VEGF. RESULTS. Immunoblots of retinal lysates showed low levels of HIF-1 alpha at P0 that were markedly increased at P4, remained high throughout the period of retinal vascular development and then decreased to an intermediate level in adults. HIF-1 beta levels were relatively constant at all time points. In mice with oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy, HIF-1 alpha levels were increased in the retina. The peak of increase occurred at 2 hours, and levels returned to baseline by 24 hours. Immunohistochemistry showed increased staining for HIF-1 alpha throughout the hypoxic inner retina, but not in the normoxic outer retina. There was no modulation of HIF-1 beta levels. There was constitutive expression of VEGF mRNA in the inner nuclear layer that was increased 6 hours after the onset of hypoxia and remained elevated for several days. CONCLUSIONS. There are increased levels of HIF-1 alpha in ischemic retina that show temporal and spatial correlation with increased expression of VEGF. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that HIF-1 plays a role in upregulation of VEGF in ischemic retina.
No preview · Article · Jan 1999 · Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the major cause of severe visual loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Laser treatment is helpful for a minority of patients with CNV, and development of new treatments is hampered by a poor understanding of the molecular signals involved. Several lines of evidence have suggested that basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) plays a role in stimulating CNV. In this study, we tested this hypothesis using mice with targeted disruption of the FGF2 gene in a newly developed murine model of laser-induced CNV. One week after krypton laser photocoagulation in C57BL/6J mice, 34 of 60 burns (57%) showed fluorescein leakage and 13 of 16 (81%) showed histopathological evidence of CNV. At 2 weeks, CNV was detected in 9 of 10 burns (90%) in which a bubble had been observed at the time of the laser treatment. Electron microscopy showed fenestrated vessels with large lumens within choroidal neovascular lesions. Two weeks after laser-induced rupture of Bruch's membrane, 27 of 36 burns (75%) contained CNV in FGF2-deficient mice compared with 26 of 30 (87%) in wild-type control mice, a difference that is not statistically significant. This study demonstrates that FGF2 is not required for the development of CNV after laser-induced rupture of Bruch's membrane and provides a new model to investigate molecular mechanisms and anti-angiogenic therapy in CNV.
Preview · Article · Dec 1998 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) is constitutively expressed in the retina and its expression is increased by a number of insults, but its role in the retina is still uncertain. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that altered expression of FGF2 in the retina affects the development of retinal neovascularization. Mice with targeted disruption of the Fgf2 gene had no detectable expression of FGF2 in the retina by Western blot, but retinal vessels were not different in appearance or total area from wild-type mice. When FGF2-deficient mice were compared with wild-type mice in a murine model of oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy, they developed the same amount of retinal neovascularization. Transgenic mice with a rhodopsin promoter/Fgf2 gene fusion expressed high levels of FGF2 in retinal photoreceptors but developed no retinal neovascularization or other abnormalities of retinal vessels; in the ischemic retinopathy model, they showed no significant difference in the amount of retinal neovascularization compared with wild-type mice. These data indicate that FGF2 expression is not necessary nor sufficient for the development of retinal neovascularization. This suggests that agents that specifically antagonize FGF2 are not likely to be useful adjuncts in the treatment of retinal neovascularization and therapies designed to increase FGF2 expression are not likely to be complicated by retinal neovascularization.
Full-text · Article · Oct 1998 · American Journal Of Pathology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the earliest changes that occur in the retina after the onset of ectopic expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) by photoreceptors in transgenic mice, to characterize the development of neovascularization (NV), and to determine the feasibility of using these mice to test the efficacy of antiangiogenic agents.
The time course of expression of VEGF transgene mRNA was determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Histopathologic changes in the retina were investigated by light and electron microscopy and immunocytochemistry. Standard and confocal fluorescence microscopy and image analysis were used to evaluate NV in retinal whole mounts.
VEGF transgene mRNA was first detected in the retina by RT-PCR on postnatal day 6 (P6) and increased over the next several days to reach a constant steady-state level between P14 and P21. Abnormal cells were seen in the outer nuclear layer on P10 and among photoreceptors on P14; by P18 there were cell aggregates in the subretinal space with evidence of lumen formation. The invading cells were demonstrated to be endothelial cells by staining with an endothelial cell-specific lectin. Whole mounts of retinas perfused with fluorescein-labeled dextran showed a similar sequence of events, with sprouts from retinal vessels in the deep capillary bed seen on P14 and vessels reaching the subretinal space by P18. Confocal and standard fluorescence microscopy and changes in the number and area of neovascular lesions in the subretinal space over time measured by image analysis suggest gradual enlargement and coalescence of vascular complexes. The subretinal NV was progressively engulfed by the retinal pigmented epithelium. Invasion of blood vessels from the choroid was not identified in any specimen.
These data support the feasibility of using rhodopsin-VEGF transgenic mice to study tissue-specific aspects of NV in the retina and to test antiangiogenic agents for inhibition of intraretinal and subretinal NV.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been implicated in retinal neovascularization (NV), but it has been difficult to produce retinal NV with exogenous VEGF. We investigated the effect of increased VEGF expression in the retina using tissue-specific, gain-of-function transgenic mice in which the bovine rhodopsin promoter is coupled to the gene for human VEGF. Three founder mice were obtained and used to generate transgenic lines. One of the lines shows increased expression of VEGF in the retina by reverse transcription coupled to polymerase chain reaction and Northern blots, and the VEGF is localized to photoreceptors by immunohistochemistry. These mice demonstrate new vessels originating from the deep capillary bed of the retina that extend beneath the photoreceptor layer into the subretinal space where they form clumps of blood vessels surrounded by proliferated retinal pigmented epithelial cells. The appearance is similar to subretinal NV seen in some patients, except that the blood vessels originate from the retinal vasculature rather than the choroidal vasculature. One of the other two lines of mice did not show increased expression of VEGF and did not have NV; the other line showed retinal degeneration. This study demonstrates that over-expression of VEGF in the retina is sufficient to cause intraretinal and subretinal NV and provides a valuable new animal model.
Full-text · Article · Aug 1997 · American Journal Of Pathology