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The cellular immune response driven by mononuclear phagocytes (MPs) is crucial for choroidal neovascularization (CNV) progression. Case reports show that a switch from pure anti-vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) intravitreal treatment to aflibercept, a drug with combined anti-VEGF-A and anti-placenta growth factor (PlGF) activity, can be beneficial for patients who do not respond to anti-VEGF-A alone. Since MPs harbor VEGFR1, we hypothesize that the interplay of P1GF/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR1) in immune cells plays a pivotal role for CNV. CNV was induced with laser, and immune cells and neovascularization were analyzed in vivo and ex vivo. Immunohistochemistry was employed for protein detection. Differential expression of angiogenic factors and macrophage polarization markers were assessed by quantitative PCR (qPCR). One day after laser, intravitreal injection of aflibercept or anti-PlGF was performed. In the early inflammatory phase after laser, Plgf but not Vegfa was significantly upregulated. VEGF-A upregulation is limited to the scar, whereas PlGF shows a wider distribution. M1 (proinflammatory) macrophage markers were upregulated in the early phase of CNV. However, M2 (proangiogenic) markers showed more inconsistent dynamics. We demonstrated that both aflibercept and anti-PlGF treatments decrease the overall amount of activated subretinal MPs, and especially of those expressing PlGF. These data correlated with a reduction in leakage associated to CNV. Aflibercept showed a stronger reduction in both parameters. The results hint at an interplay between PlGF/VEGFR1 and MPs that is important in the early phase of CNV. A combined inhibition of VEGF-A and PlGF is superior to a specific anti-PlGF treatment in terms of subretinal MP recruitment.


Sergio Crespo-Garcia, Caitlin Corkhill, Christophe Roubeix, Anja-Maria Davids, Norbert Kociok, Olaf Strauss, Antonia M Joussen, Nadine Reichhart. Inhibition of Placenta Growth Factor Reduces Subretinal Mononuclear Phagocyte Accumulation in Choroidal Neovascularization. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2017 Oct 01;58(12):4997-5006

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PMID: 28979997

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