BACKGROUND:: Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is the main cause of vision loss in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In experimental CNV, endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) contribute to the formation of new vessels. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the behavior of EPCs in patients with AMD supports a role for EPCs in human CNV. METHODS:: The number of circulating EPCs that are considered pure endothelial precursors and EPCs with monocytic characteristics, and the plasma levels of regulatory cytokines were evaluated in 23 patients with AMD with active CNV and 20 matched controls. In the patients, this profile was re-evaluated after ranibizumab. RESULTS:: When compared with controls, the patients with AMD showed a lower number of both EPC types (P = 0.03) and higher plasma levels (P = 0.03) of stromal cell-derived factor 1. Three monthly injections of ranibizumab returned to control levels the number of circulating EPCs considered pure endothelial precursors and of stromal cell-derived factor 1, but not of monocytic EPCs. CONCLUSION:: The observations indicate responsiveness of circulating EPCs to the CNV process in AMD. They suggest the hypothesis that increased stromal cell-derived factor 1 production at the CNV site (reflected in higher plasma levels) recruits EPCs from the circulation, and that antivascular endothelial growth factor therapy selectively decreases the recruitment of cells to be incorporated into new vessels.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Choroidal neovascularization
- Endothelial progenitor cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas