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The formation of fibrovascular membranes (FVMs) is a serious sight-threatening complication of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) that may result in retinal detachment and eventual blindness. During the formation of these membranes, neurite/process outgrowth occurs in retinal neurons and glial cells, which may both serve as a scaffold and have guiding or regulatory roles. To further understand this process, we investigated whether previously identified candidate proteins, from vitreous of PDR patients with FVMs, could induce neurite outgrowth in an experimental setting. Retinal explants of C57BL6/N mouse pups on postnatal day 3 (P3) were cultured in poly-L-lysine- and laminin-coated dishes. Outgrowth stimulation experiments were performed with the addition of potential inducers of neurite outgrowth. Automated analysis of neurite outgrowth was performed by measuring β-tubulin-immunopositive neurites using Image J. Expression of PDGF receptors was quantified by RT-PCR in FVMs of PDR patients. Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) induced neurite outgrowth in a concentration-dependent manner, whilst neuregulin 1 (NRG1) and connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) did not. When comparing three different PDGF dimers, treatment with PDGF-AB resulted in the highest neurite induction, followed by PDGF-AA and -BB. In addition, incubation of retinal explants with vitreous from PDR patients resulted in a significant induction of neurite outgrowth as compared to non-diabetic control vitreous from patients with macular holes, which could be prevented by addition of CP673451, a potent PDGF receptor (PDGFR) inhibitor. Abundant expression of PDGF receptors was detected in FVMs. Our findings suggest that PDGF may be involved in the retinal neurite outgrowth, which is associated with the formation of FVMs in PDR.


Evy Lefevere, Inge Van Hove, Jurgen Sergeys, David H W Steel, Reinier Schlingemann, Lieve Moons, Ingeborg Klaassen. PDGF as an Important Initiator for Neurite Outgrowth Associated with Fibrovascular Membranes in Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy. Current eye research. 2022 Feb;47(2):277-286

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PMID: 34612091

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