Angiopoietin-like 4 is a potent angiogenic factor and a novel therapeutic target for patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
ABSTRACT: Diabetic eye disease is the most common cause of severe vision loss in the working-age population in the developed world, and proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) is its most vision-threatening sequela. In PDR, retinal ischemia leads to the up-regulation of angiogenic factors that promote neovascularization. Therapies targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) delay the development of neovascularization in some, but not all, diabetic patients, implicating additional factor(s) in PDR pathogenesis. Here we demonstrate that the angiogenic potential of aqueous fluid from PDR patients is independent of VEGF concentration, providing an opportunity to evaluate the contribution of other angiogenic factor(s) to PDR development. We identify angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) as a potent angiogenic factor whose expression is up-regulated in hypoxic retinal Müller cells in vitro and the ischemic retina in vivo. Expression of ANGPTL4 was increased in the aqueous and vitreous of PDR patients, independent of VEGF levels, correlated with the presence of diabetic eye disease, and localized to areas of retinal neovascularization. Inhibition of ANGPTL4 expression reduced the angiogenic potential of hypoxic Müller cells; this effect was additive with inhibition of VEGF expression. An ANGPTL4 neutralizing antibody inhibited the angiogenic effect of aqueous fluid from PDR patients, including samples from patients with low VEGF levels or receiving anti-VEGF therapy. Collectively, our results suggest that targeting both ANGPTL4 and VEGF may be necessary for effective treatment or prevention of PDR and provide the foundation for studies evaluating aqueous ANGPTL4 as a biomarker to help guide individualized therapy for diabetic eye disease.
Project description:The recent success of therapies directly targeting the angiogenic mediator, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), for the treatment of proliferative diabetic retinopathy has encouraged clinicians to extend the use of anti-VEGF therapies for the treatment of another ischemic retinal vascular disease, proliferative sickle cell retinopathy (PSR), the most common cause of irreversible blindness in patients with sickle cell disease. However, results from case reports evaluating anti-VEGF therapies for PSR have been mixed. This highlights the need to identify alternative therapeutic targets for the treatment of retinal neovascularization in sickle cell patients. In this regard, angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) is a novel angiogenic factor regulated by the transcription factor, hypoxia-inducible factor 1, the master regulator of angiogenic mediators (including VEGF) in ischemic retinal disease. In an effort to identify alternative targets for the treatment of sickle cell retinopathy, we have explored the expression of ANGPTL4 in the eyes of patients with PSR. To this end, we examined expression and localization of ANGPTL4 by immunohistochemistry in autopsy eyes from patients with known PSR (n = 5 patients). Complementary studies were performed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays in aqueous (n = 8; 7 patients, 2 samples from one eye of same patient) and vitreous (n = 3 patients) samples from a second group of patients with active PSR. We detected expression of ANGPTL4 in neovascular tissue and in the ischemic inner retina in PSR, but not control, eyes. We further observed elevated expression of ANGPTL4 in the aqueous and vitreous of PSR patients compared to controls. These results suggest that ANGPTL4 could contribute to the development of retinal neovascularization in sickle cell patients and could therefore be a therapeutic target for the treatment of PSR.
Project description:Vision loss from ischemic retinopathies commonly results from the accumulation of fluid in the inner retina [macular edema (ME)]. Although the precise events that lead to the development of ME remain under debate, growing evidence supports a role for an ischemia-induced hyperpermeability state regulated, in part, by VEGF. Monthly treatment with anti-VEGF therapies is effective for the treatment of ME but results in a major improvement in vision in a minority of patients, underscoring the need to identify additional therapeutic targets. Using the oxygen-induced retinopathy mouse model for ischemic retinopathy, we provide evidence showing that hypoxic Müller cells promote vascular permeability by stabilizing hypoxia-inducible factor-1? (HIF-1?) and secreting angiogenic cytokines. Blocking HIF-1? translation with digoxin inhibits the promotion of endothelial cell permeability in vitro and retinal edema in vivo. Interestingly, Müller cells require HIF--but not VEGF--to promote vascular permeability, suggesting that other HIF-dependent factors may contribute to the development of ME. Using gene expression analysis, we identify angiopoietin-like 4 (ANGPTL4) as a cytokine up-regulated by HIF-1 in hypoxic Müller cells in vitro and the ischemic inner retina in vivo. ANGPTL4 is critical and sufficient to promote vessel permeability by hypoxic Müller cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of retinal tissue from patients with diabetic eye disease shows that HIF-1? and ANGPTL4 localize to ischemic Müller cells. Our results suggest that ANGPTL4 may play an important role in promoting vessel permeability in ischemic retinopathies and could be an important target for the treatment of ME.
Project description:Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), a major complication of diabetes mellitus, results from an inflammation-sustained interplay among endothelial cells, neurons, and glia. Even though anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) interventions represent the therapeutic option for PDR, they are only partially efficacious. In PDR, Müller cells undergo reactive gliosis, produce inflammatory cytokines/chemokines, and contribute to scar formation and retinal neovascularization. However, the impact of anti-VEGF interventions on Müller cell activation has not been fully elucidated. Here, we show that treatment of MIO-M1 Müller cells with vitreous obtained from PDR patients stimulates cell proliferation and motility, and activates various intracellular signaling pathways. This leads to cytokine/chemokine upregulation, a response that was not mimicked by treatment with recombinant VEGF nor inhibited by the anti-VEGF drug ranibizumab. In contrast, fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) induced a significant overexpression of various cytokines/chemokines in MIO-M1 cells. In addition, the FGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor BGJ398, the pan-FGF trap NSC12, the heparin-binding protein antagonist N-tert-butyloxycarbonyl-Phe-Leu-Phe-Leu-Phe Boc2, and the anti-inflammatory hydrocortisone all inhibited Müller cell activation mediated by PDR vitreous. These findings point to a role for various modulators beside VEGF in Müller cell activation and pave the way to the search for novel therapeutic strategies in PDR.
Project description:Dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitors are used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). Recent studies have shown that beyond their effect in lowing glucose, DPP-4 inhibitors mitigate DM-related microvascular complications, such as diabetic retinopathy. However, the mechanism by which pathological retinal neovascularization, a major clinical manifestation of diabetic retinopathy, is inhibited is unclear. This study sought to examine the effects of evogliptin, a potent DPP-4 inhibitor, on pathological retinal neovascularization in mice and elucidate the mechanism by which evogliptin inhibits angiogenesis mediated by vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a key factor in the vascular pathogenesis of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). In a murine model of PDR, an intravitreal injection of evogliptin significantly suppressed aberrant retinal neovascularization. In human endothelial cells, evogliptin reduced VEGF-induced angiogenesis. Western blot analysis showed that evogliptin inhibited the phosphorylation of signaling molecules associated with VEGF-induced cell adhesion and migration. Moreover, evogliptin substantially inhibited the VEGF-induced activation of adenosine 5'-diphosphate ribosylation factor 6 (Arf6), a small guanosine 5'-triphosphatase (GTPase) that regulates VEGF receptor 2 signal transduction. Direct activation of Arf6 using a chemical inhibitor of Arf-directed GTPase-activating protein completely abrogated the inhibitory effect of evogliptin on VEGF-induced activation of the angiogenic signaling pathway, which suggests that evogliptin suppresses VEGF-induced angiogenesis by blocking Arf6 activation. Our results provide insights into the molecular mechanism of the direct inhibitory effect of the DPP-4 inhibitor evogliptin on pathological retinal neovascularization. In addition to its glucose-lowering effect, the antiangiogenic effect of evogliptin could also render it beneficial for individuals with PDR.
Project description:PURPOSE: Chronic hyperglycemia and hypoxemia are believed to be causal factors in the development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) among individuals with type 2 diabetes. It is hypothesized that formation of new blood vessels in the retina due to prolonged hypoxia is associated with increased expression of several growth factors and angiogenic cytokines. In the present study, we investigated the association of genetic polymorphisms in vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), transforming growth factor beta (TGF-?), and interferon ? (IFN-?) genes, which may be responsible for the hypoxia-induced VEGF-mediated neovascularization pathway for the pathogenesis of PDR. METHODS: Our case-control association study composed of 493 ethnically matched volunteers (253 with PDR [cases] and 240 diabetic controls [DC]). Gene polymorphisms were determined with Taqman-based real-time PCR and amplification refractory mutation analysis system PCR. RESULTS: The VEGF-460C (rs833061C; p=0.0043) and IFN-? +874T (rs2430561T; p=0.0011) alleles were significantly associated with PDR. CONCLUSIONS: Genetic variations at VEGF-460C and IFN-? +874T might accelerate the pathogenesis of retinal neovascularization in PDR.
Project description:Recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the molecular pathophysiology of retinal vascular disease have allowed us to specifically target pathological angiogenesis while minimizing damage to the neurosensory retina. This is perhaps best exemplified by the development of therapies targeting the potent angiogenic growth factor and vascular permeability mediator, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Anti-VEGF therapies, initially introduced for the treatment of choroidal neovascularization in patients with age-related macular degeneration, have also had a dramatic impact on the management of retinal vascular disease and are currently an indispensable component for the treatment of macular edema in patients with diabetic eye disease and retinal vein occlusions. Emerging evidence supports expanding the use of therapies targeting VEGF for the treatment of retinal neovascularization in patients with diabetic retinopathy and retinopathy of prematurity. However, VEGF is among a growing list of angiogenic and vascular hyperpermeability factors that promote retinal vascular disease. Many of these mediators are expressed in response to stabilization of a single family of transcription factors, the hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs), that regulate the expression of these angiogenic stimulators. Here we review the basic principles driving pathological angiogenesis and discuss the current state of retinal anti-angiogenic pharmacotherapy as well as future directions.
Project description:Retinal Müller cells are major producers of inflammatory and angiogenic cytokines which contribute to diabetic retinopathy (DR). Over-activation of the Wnt/?-catenin pathway has been shown to play an important pathogenic role in DR. However, the roles of Müller cell-derived Wnt/?-catenin signaling in retinal neovascularization (NV) and DR remain undefined. In the present study, mice with conditional ?-catenin knockout (KO) in Müller cells were generated and subjected to oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetes. Wnt signaling was evaluated by measuring levels of ?-catenin and expression of its target genes using immunoblotting. Retinal vascular permeability was measured using Evans blue as a tracer. Retinal NV was visualized by angiography and quantified by counting pre-retinal nuclei. Retinal pericyte loss was evaluated using retinal trypsin digestion. Electroretinography was performed to examine visual function. No abnormalities were detected in the ?-catenin KO mice under normal conditions. In OIR, retinal levels of ?-catenin and VEGF were significantly lower in the ?-catenin KO mice than in littermate controls. The KO mice also had decreased retinal NV and vascular leakage in the OIR model. In the STZ-induced diabetic model, disruption of ?-catenin in Müller cells attenuated over-expression of inflammatory cytokines and ameliorated pericyte dropout in the retina. These findings suggest that Wnt signaling activation in Müller cells contributes to retinal NV, vascular leakage and inflammation and represents a potential therapeutic target for DR.
Project description:Arachidonic acid is metabolized by 12-lipoxygenase (12-LOX) to 12-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (12-HETE) and has an important role in the regulation of angiogenesis and endothelial cell proliferation and migration. The goal of this study was to investigate whether 12-LOX plays a role in retinal neovascularization (NV).Experiments were performed using retinas from a murine model of oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy (OIR) that was treated with and without the LOX pathway inhibitor, baicalein, or lacking 12-LOX. We also analyzed vitreous samples from patients with and without proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR). Western blotting and RT-PCR were used to assess the expression of 12-LOX, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF). Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to assess the amounts of HETEs in the murine retina and human vitreous samples. The effects of 12-HETE on VEGF and PEDF expression were evaluated in Müller cells (rMCs), primary mouse retinal pigment epithelial cells, and astrocytes.Retinal NV during OIR was associated with increased 12-LOX expression and 12-, 15-, and 5-HETE production. The amounts of HETEs also were significantly higher in the vitreous of diabetic patients with PDR. Retinal NV was markedly abrogated in mice treated with baicalein or mice lacking 12-LOX. This was associated with decreased VEGF expression and restoration of PEDF levels. PEDF expression was reduced in 12-HETE-treated rMCs, astrocytes, and the retinal pigment epithelium. Only rMCs and astrocytes showed increased VEGF expression by 12-HETE.12-LOX and its product HETE are important regulators of retinal NV through modulation of VEGF and PEDF expression and could provide a new therapeutic target to prevent and treat ischemic retinopathy.
Project description:Proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR), neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD), retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and other eye diseases are characterized by retinal and/or choroidal neovascularization, ultimately causing vision loss in millions of people worldwide. nvAMD and PDR are associated with aging and the number of those affected is expected to increase as the global median age and life expectancy continue to rise. With this increase in prevalence, the development of novel, orally bioavailable therapies for neovascular eye diseases that target multiple pathways is critical, since current anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatments, delivered by intravitreal injection, are accompanied with tachyphylaxis, a high treatment burden and risk of complications. One potential target is apurinic/apyrimidinic endonuclease 1/reduction-oxidation factor 1 (APE1/Ref-1). The multifunctional protein APE1/Ref-1 may be targeted via inhibitors of its redox-regulating transcription factor activation activity to modulate angiogenesis, inflammation, oxidative stress response and cell cycle in neovascular eye disease; these inhibitors also have neuroprotective effects in other tissues. An APE1/Ref-1 small molecule inhibitor is already in clinical trials for cancer, PDR and diabetic macular edema. Efforts to develop further inhibitors are underway. APE1/Ref-1 is a novel candidate for therapeutically targeting neovascular eye diseases and alleviating the burden associated with anti-VEGF intravitreal injections.
Project description:AIMS/HYPOTHESIS:Retinal Müller cells are known to produce inflammatory and angiogenic cytokines, which play important roles in diabetic retinopathy. Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1 has been shown to play a crucial role in retinal inflammation and neovascularisation. We sought to determine the role of Müller cell-derived HIF-1 in oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) and diabetic retinopathy using conditional Hif-1? (also known as Hif1a) knockout (KO) mice. METHODS:Conditional Hif-1? KO mice were generated by crossing mice expressing cyclisation recombinase (cre, also known as P1_gp003) in Müller cells with floxed Hif-1? mice and used for OIR and streptozotocin-induced diabetes to induce retinal neovascularisation and inflammation, respectively. Abundance of HIF-1? and pro-angiogenic and pro-inflammatory factors was measured by immunoblotting and immunohistochemistry. Retinal neovascularisation was visualised by angiography and quantified by counting pre-retinal nuclei. Retinal inflammation was evaluated by leucostasis and vascular leakage. RESULTS:While the Hif-1? KO mice showed significantly decreased HIF-1? levels in the retina, they exhibited no apparent histological or visual functional abnormalities under normal conditions. Compared with wild-type counterparts, Hif-1? KO mice with OIR demonstrated attenuated overproduction of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, reduced vascular leakage and alleviated neovascularisation in the retina. Under diabetes conditions, disruption of Hif-1? in Müller cells attenuated the increases of retinal vascular leakage and adherent leucocytes, as well as the overproduction of VEGF and ICAM-1. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION:Müller cell-derived HIF-1? is a key mediator of retinal neovascularisation, vascular leakage and inflammation, the major pathological changes in diabetic retinopathy. Müller cell-derived HIF-1? is therefore a promising therapeutic target for diabetic retinopathy.