Fibrotic Changes and Endothelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition Promoted by VEGFR2 Antagonism Alter the Therapeutic Effects of VEGFA Pathway Blockage in a Mouse Model of Choroidal Neovascularization

Date Published:

2020 Sep 09


Many patients with wet age-related macular degeneration do not respond well to anti- vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) therapy for choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and the efficacy of anti-VEGFA decreases over time. We investigated the hypothesis that fibrotic changes, in particular via endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndoMT), play a role in CNV and alter the therapeutic effects of VEGFA pathway blockage. Induction of EndoMT of primary human retinal endothelial cells led to a significantly reduced response to VEGFA at the level of gene expression, cellular proliferation, migration, and tube formation. Suppression of EndoMT restored cell responsiveness to VEGFA. In a mouse model of spontaneous CNV, fibrotic changes and EndoMT persisted as the CNV lesions became more established over time. VEGFA receptor-2 (VEGFR2) antagonism further induced fibrosis and EndoMT in the CNV. The combination of VEGFR2 antagonism and fibrosis/EndoMT inhibition was more effective than either individual treatment in reducing CNV. Our data indicate that fibrosis and EndoMT are involved in the progression of CNV, are exacerbated by VEGFR2 inhibition, and could provide an explanation for the reduced efficacy of anti-VEGFA treatment over time.

Last updated on 09/30/2020