Hypo-angiogenesis: A possible pathological factor in the development of dry age-related macular degeneration and a novel therapeutic target
Medical hypothesis discovery and innovation in ophthalmology,
Vol. 10 No. 4 (2021),
24 February 2022
AbstractBackground: Angiogenesis causes severe vision loss in patients with exudative or wet forms of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The pathogenesis involves upregulation of several proangiogenic factors, particularly the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). Contrary to the pathogenesis of exudative AMD, molecular events leading to the development of dry AMD remain unclear. Dry AMD is characterized by loss of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The mechanism that triggers RPE cell loss remains unclear. Choriocapillaris development is absent in mice with RPE-specific deletion of VEGF. Moreover, in later life, background VEGF secretion promotes the survival of the RPE and maintains choriocapillaris integrity.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that reduced synthesis of VEGF (hypo-angiogenesis) or abnormalities in its receptors, VEGF receptor-1 (VEGFR1) and VEGFR2, may be involved in the pathogenesis of non-exudative AMD or dry AMD. If the concept of hypo-angiogenesis as a driver for dry AMD is proven, treatment with VEGF or induction of angiogenesis could be considered. Similar attempts at therapeutic angiogenesis have been actively investigated in cardiac and limb ischemia.
Conclusions: The reasons for a patient developing exudative AMD or dry AMD remain poorly understood. Nevertheless, targeting increased VEGF production in patients with exudative AMD using anti-VEGF drugs is highly efficacious in preserving vision. Similarly, dry AMD may be a manifestation of reduced VEGF synthesis (hypo-angiogenesis) and subsequent decreased RPE cell survival. Experimental studies exploring the possibility of reduced VEGF secretion and/or increased receptor resistance/abnormality could pave the way for clinical trials of angiogenesis to treat dry AMD.
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