Anti-Angiogenic and Anti-Scarring Dual Action of an Anti-Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 Aptamer in Animal Models of Retinal Disease.
ABSTRACT: Currently approved therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are inhibitors against vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), which is a major contributor to the pathogenesis of neovascular AMD (nAMD). Intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF drugs have shown dramatic visual benefits for AMD patients. However, a significant portion of AMD patients exhibit an incomplete response to therapy and, over the extended management course, can lose vision, with the formation of submacular fibrosis as one risk factor. We investigated a novel target for AMD treatments, fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), which has been implicated in the pathophysiology of both angiogenesis and fibrosis in a variety of tissue and organ systems. The anti-FGF2 aptamer, RBM-007, was examined for treatment of nAMD in animal models. In in vivo studies conducted in mice and rats, RBM-007 was able to inhibit FGF2-induced angiogenesis, laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and CNV with fibrosis. Pharmacokinetic studies of RBM-007 in the rabbit vitreous revealed high and relatively long-lasting profiles that are superior to other approved anti-VEGF drugs. The anti-angiogenic and anti-scarring dual action of RBM-007 holds promise as an additive or alternative therapy to anti-VEGF treatments for nAMD.
Project description:Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness among the aging population. The current treatment options for nAMD include intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF). However, standardized frequent administration of anti-VEGF injections only improves vision in approximately 30-40% of nAMD patients. Current therapies targeting nAMD pose a significant risk of retinal fibrosis and geographic atrophy (GA) development in nAMD patients. A need exists to develop new therapies to treat nAMD with effective and long-term anti-angiogenic effects. Recent research on nAMD has identified novel therapeutic targets and angiogenic signaling mechanisms involved in its pathogenesis. For example, tissue factor, human intravenous immune globulin, interferon-? signaling, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and cytochrome P450 monooxygenase lipid metabolites have been identified as key players in the development of angiogenesis in AMD disease models. Furthermore, novel therapies such as NACHT, LRR and PYD domains containing protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome inhibition, inhibitors of integrins and tissue factor are currently being tested at the level of clinical trials to treat nAMD. The aim of this review is to discuss the scope for alternative therapies proposed as anti-VEGFs for the treatment of nAMD.
Project description:Purpose:Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) results from choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and causes severe vision loss. Intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies have significantly improved therapeutic outcomes; however, a substantial number of patients experience disease progression. Roundabout 4 (ROBO4) has been reported to be a vascular-specific protein that stabilizes vasculature in ocular pathological angiogenesis. To explore ROBO4 targeting as a novel treatment against neovascularization, we generated a humanized anti-human ROBO4 antibody, DS-7080a, and evaluated its efficacy. Methods:ROBO4 mRNA in human whole eye cross-sections was examined by in situ hybridization. Human umbilical vein endothelial cell (HUVEC) migration was measured in the presence of VEGF, basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), or conditioned medium of primary human retinal pigment epithelial (HRPE) cells. CNV was induced in cynomolgus monkeys by laser irradiation. Vascular leakage was measured by fluorescein angiography, and pathological changes were determined by histology. Results:ROBO4 mRNA was detected in choroidal vessels of nAMD patients. DS-7080a suppressed HGF- or bFGF-induced HUVEC migration in addition to that induced by VEGF. Further, HUVEC migration induced by HRPE-conditioned medium was inhibited by either DS-7080a or ranibizumab in a similar manner, and the combination of these showed further inhibition. In a laser-induced CNV monkey model, single intravitreous administration of 1.1 mg/eye of DS-7080a reduced the incidence of grade 4 leakage from 44.45% in control eyes to 1.85% (P < 0.05 by Dunnett's test). Conclusions:Anti-ROBO4 antibody DS-7080a suppressed HUVEC migration in a distinctly different fashion from anti-VEGF agents and improved laser-induced CNV in non-human primates. Translational Relevance:DS-7080a may be a novel treatment option for nAMD.
Project description:Intravitreal injection of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) is the current standard of treatment for choroidal neovascularization (CNV) secondary to neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), but there are no diagnostic tools to predict response of these therapies. We hypothesize that differences in baseline metabolic profiles of patients with nAMD may influence responsiveness to anti-VEGF therapy, and thus provide prognosticating information for these patients. A prospective study was performed on 100 patients with nAMD treated with anti-VEGF therapy. We classified patients into two groups: responders (n?=?54) and non-responders (n?=?46). The expression levels of glycerophosphocholine,LysoPC (18:2) and PS (18:0/20:4) were higher in non-responders and these findings were verified in the validation cohort, implicating that reductions in these three metabolites can be used as predictors for responsiveness to anti-VEGF therapy during the initial loading phase for patients with nAMD. Our study also provided new insights into the pathophysiological changes and molecular mechanism of anti- VEGF therapy for nAMD patients.
Project description:Neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in developed countries. Recent advances have highlighted the essential role of inflammation in the development of the disease. In addition to local retinal chronic inflammatory response, systemic immune alterations have also been observed in AMD patients. In this study we investigated the association between the frequency of circulating leukocyte populations and the prevalence as well as clinical presentations of nAMD. Leukocyte subsets of 103 nAMD patients (most of them were receiving anti-VEGF therapy prior to enrolment) and 26 controls were analysed by flow cytometry by relative cell size, granularity and surface markers. Circulating CD11b(+) cells and CD16(hi)HLA-DR(-) neutrophils were significantly increased (P?=?0.015 and 0.009 respectively) in nAMD when compared to controls. The percentage of circulating CD4(+) T-cells was reduced in nAMD patients without subretinal fibrosis (P?=?0.026) compared to patients with subretinal fibrosis. There was no correlation between the percentage of circulating leukocytes and the responsiveness to anti-VEGF therapy in nAMD patients. Our results suggest that higher levels of circulating CD11b(+) cells and neutrophils are associated with nAMD and that reduced levels of CD4(+) T-cells are associated with the absence of subretinal fibrosis in nAMD.
Project description:A common allele (402H) of the complement factor H (FH) gene is the major risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the elderly population. Development and progression of AMD involves vascular and inflammatory components partly by deregulation of the alternative pathway of the complement system (AP). The loss of central vision results from atrophy and/or from abnormal neovascularization arising from the choroid. The functional link between FH, the main inhibitor of AP, and choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in AMD remains unclear. In a murine model of CNV used as a model for neovascular AMD (nAMD), intraocular human recombinant FH (recFH) reduced CNV as efficiently as currently used anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) antibody, decreasing deposition of C3 cleavage fragments, membrane attack complex (MAC), and microglia/macrophage recruitment markers in the CNV lesion site. In sharp contrast, recFH carrying the H402 risk variant had no effect on CNV indicating a causal link to disease etiology. Only the recFH NTal region (recFH1-7), containing the CCPs1-4 C3-convertase inhibition domains and the CCP7 binding domain, exerted all differential biological effects. The CTal region (recFH7-20) containing the CCP7 and CCPs19-20 binding domains was antiangiogenic but did not reduce the microglia/macrophage recruitment. The antiangiogenic effect of both recFH1-20 and recFH-CCP7-20 resulted from thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) upregulation independently of the C3 cleavage fragments generation. This study provides insight on the mechanistic role of FH in nAMD and invites to reconsider its therapeutic potential.
Project description:Purpose:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of central visual loss among patients over the age of 55 years worldwide. Neovascular-type AMD (nAMD) accounts for approximately 10% of patients with AMD and is characterized by choroidal neovascularization (CNV). The proliferation of choroidal endothelial cells (CECs) is one important step in the formation of new vessels. Transcriptional coactivator Yes-associated protein (YAP) can promote the proliferation of multiple cancer cells, corneal endothelial cells, and vascular smooth muscle cells, which participate in angiogenesis. This study intends to reveal the expression and functions of YAP during the CNV process. Methods:In the study, a mouse CNV model was generated by laser photocoagulation. YAP expression was detected with western blotting and immunohistochemistry. YAP siRNA and ranibizumab, a VEGF monoclonal antibody, were injected intravitreally in CNV mice. The YAP and VEGF expression levels after injection were detected with western blotting. The incidence and leakage area of CNV were measured with fundus fluorescein angiography, choroidal flat mounting, and hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining. Immunofluorescent double staining was used to detect YAP cellular localization with CD31 (an endothelial cell marker) antibody. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) expression in CNV mice without or with YAP siRNA intravitreal injection and the colocalization of PCNA and CD31 were measured with western blotting and immunofluorescent double staining, respectively. Results:YAP expression increased following laser exposure, in accordance with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression. YAP siRNA and ranibizumab decreased VEGF expression and the incidence and leakage area of CNV. YAP was localized in the vascular endothelium within the CNV site. Additionally, after laser exposure, YAP siRNA inhibited the increased expression of PCNA, which was colocalized with endothelial cells. Conclusions:This study showed that YAP upregulation promoted CNV formation by upregulating the proliferation of endothelial cells, providing evidence for the molecular mechanisms of CNV and suggesting a novel molecular target for nAMD treatment.
Project description:Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a key mediator in the development and progression of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). As a consequence, current treatment strategies typically focus on the administration of anti-VEGF agents, such as Aflibercept (Eylea), that inhibit VEGF function. While this approach is largely successful at counteracting CNV progression, the treatment can require repetitive (i.e. monthly) intravitreal injections of the anti-VEGF agent throughout the patient's lifetime, imposing a substantial financial and medical burden on the patient. Moreover, repetitive injection of anti-VEGF agents over a period of years may encourage progression of retinal and choroidal atrophy in patients with AMD, leading to a decrease in visual acuity. Herein, we have developed a single-injection recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV)-based gene therapy treatment for wet AMD that prevents CNV formation through inducible over-expression of Eylea. First, we demonstrate that by incorporating riboswitch elements into the rAAV expression cassette allows protein expression levels to be modulated in vivo through oral supplementation on an activating ligand (e.g. tetracycline). We subsequently utilized this technology to modulate the intraocular concentration of Eylea following rAAV delivery, leading to nearly complete (p?=?0.0008) inhibition of clinically significant CNV lesions in an established mouse model of wet AMD. The results shown in this study pave the way for the development of a personalized gene therapy strategy for the treatment of wet AMD that is substantially less invasive and more clinically adaptable than the current treatment paradigm of repetitive bolus injections of anti-VEGF agents.
Project description:Purpose:The formation of macular hole after receiving anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) therapy is rare. We report a case of macular hole that occurred after intravitreal injection of an anti-VEGF agent for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in a patient, who underwent vitrectomy combined with choroidal neovascularization (CNV) removal. Observations:A 64-year-old female with AMD affecting her right eye received an intravitreal injection of an anti-VEGF agent. After treatment, we identified a full thickness macular hole (MH) that was associated with the rapid resolution of the macular edema and contraction of the CNV. After performing vitrectomy combined with CNV removal, the MH closed and her visual acuity improved. Examination of the removed CNV revealed a network of microvessels devoid of pericytes. Conclusions:and Importance: The present findings suggest that rapid resolution of macular edema and contraction of the CNV and/or mild increase in the vitreous traction after anti-VEGF therapy could potentially cause MH. CNV removal via the MH may be an acceptable procedure, if the MH remains open, the CNV is of the classic type, and it spares a central portion of the fovea.
Project description:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly in developed countries. Neovascular AMD (nAMD) accounts for 90% of AMD-related vision loss. Although intravitreal injection of VEGF inhibitors can improve vision in nAMD, approximately 1/3 of patients do not benefit from the therapy due to macular fibrosis. The molecular mechanism underlying the transition of the neovascular lesion to a fibrovascular phenotype remains unknown. Here we discussed the clinical features and risk factors of macular fibrosis secondary to nAMD. Myofibroblasts are key cells in fibrosis development. However, fibroblasts do not exist in the macula. Potential sources of myofibroblast precursors, the molecular cues in the macular microenvironment that recruit them and the pathways that control their differentiation and activation in macular fibrosis were also discussed. Furthermore, we highlighted the challenges in macular fibrosis research and the urgent need for better animal models for mechanistic and therapeutic studies.
Project description:Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness among people over the age of 60. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a major role in pathological angiogenesis in AMD. Herein, we present the development of an anti- human VEGF repebody, which is a small-sized protein binder consisting of leucine-rich repeat (LRR) modules. The anti-VEGF repebody selected through a phage-display was shown to have a high affinity and specificity for human VEGF. We demonstrate that this repebody effectively inhibits in vitro angiogenic cellular processes, such as proliferation and migration, by blocking the VEGF-mediated signaling pathway. The repebody was also shown to have a strong suppression effect on choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and vascular leakage in vivo. Our results indicate that the anti-VEGF repebody has a therapeutic potential for treating neovascular AMD as well as other VEGF-involved diseases including diabetic retinopathy and metastatic cancers.