NGF/anti-VEGF combined exposure protects RCS retinal cells and photoreceptors that underwent a local worsening of inflammation

Maria Luisa Rocco, Bijorn Omar Balzamino, Graziana Esposito, Carla Petrella, Luigi Aloe, Alessandra Micera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Our previous study highlighted the potential nerve growth factor (NGF) effect on damaged photoreceptors from a rat model of spontaneous Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Herein, we tested the combined NGF/anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (αVEGF) effect on cultured retinal cells isolated from Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats receiving an intravitreal VEGF injection (iv-VEGF) to exacerbate retinal inflammation/neovascularization. Methods: RCS (n = 75) rats were equally grouped as untreated (n = 25), iv-saline (single saline intravitreal injection; n = 25) and iv-VEGF (single VEGF intravitreal injection; n = 25). Morphological and biochemical analysis or in vitro stimulations with the biomolecular investigation were carried out on explanted retinas. Isolated retinal cells were treated with NGF and αVEGF, either alone or in combination, for 6 days and cells were harvested for morphological and biomolecular analyses. Results: Infiltrating inflammatory cells were detected in iv-VEGF exposed RCS retinas, indicative of exacerbated inflammation and neovascularization. In cell cultures, NGF/αVEGF significantly increased retinal cell survival as well as rhodopsin expression and neurite outgrowth in photoreceptors. Particularly, NGF/αVEGF upregulated Bcl-2 mRNA, downregulated Bax mRNA, upregulated trkANGFR mRNA and finally upregulated both NGF mRNA and protein. Conclusions: These data confirm and extend our previous findings on NGF-photoreceptor crosstalk, highlighting that the NGF/αVEGF combination might be an interesting approach for improving neuroprotection of RCS retinal cells and likewise photoreceptors in the presence of neovascularization. Further studies are required to translate this in vitro approach into clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalGraefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 24 2016


  • Anti-VEGF
  • Apoptosis
  • Neuroprotection
  • NGF
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Retinitis pigmentosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'NGF/anti-VEGF combined exposure protects RCS retinal cells and photoreceptors that underwent a local worsening of inflammation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this