BACKGROUND: The retina is a complex tissue comprised of multiple cell types that is affected by a diverse set of diseases that are important causes of vision loss. Characterizing the transcripts, both annotated and novel, that are expressed in a given tissue has become vital for understanding the mechanisms underlying the pathology of disease. RESULTS: We sequenced RNA prepared from three normal human retinas and characterized the retinal transcriptome at an unprecedented level due to the increased depth of sampling provided by the RNA-seq approach. We used a non-redundant reference transcriptome from all of the empirically-determined human reference tracks to identify annotated and novel sequences expressed in the retina. We detected 79,915 novel alternative splicing events, including 29,887 novel exons, 21,757 3' and 5' alternate splice sites, and 28,271 exon skipping events. We also identified 116 potential novel genes. These data represent a significant addition to the annotated human transcriptome. For example, the novel exons detected increase the number of identified exons by 3%. Using a high-throughput RNA capture approach to validate 14,696 of these novel transcriptome features we found that 99% of the putative novel events can be reproducibly detected. Further, 15-36% of the novel splicing events maintain an open reading frame, suggesting they produce novel protein products. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first application of RNA capture to perform large-scale validation of novel transcriptome features. In total, these analyses provide extensive detail about a previously uncharacterized level of transcript diversity in the human retina.
Current treatments for choroidal neovascularization, a major cause of blindness for patients with age-related macular degeneration, treat symptoms but not the underlying causes of the disease. Inflammation has been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of choroidal neovascularization. We examined the inflammatory role of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) in age-related macular degeneration. TLR2 was robustly expressed by the retinal pigment epithelium in mouse and human eyes, both normal and with macular degeneration/choroidal neovascularization. Nuclear localization of NF-κB, a major downstream target of TLR2 signaling, was detected in the retinal pigment epithelium of human eyes, particularly in eyes with advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration. TLR2 antagonism effectively suppressed initiation and growth of spontaneous choroidal neovascularization in a mouse model, and the combination of anti-TLR2 and antivascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 yielded an additive therapeutic effect on both area and number of spontaneous choroidal neovascularization lesions. Finally, in primary human fetal retinal pigment epithelium cells, ligand binding to TLR2 induced robust expression of proinflammatory cytokines, and end products of lipid oxidation had a synergistic effect on TLR2 activation. Our data illustrate a functional role for TLR2 in the pathogenesis of choroidal neovascularization, likely by promoting inflammation of the retinal pigment epithelium, and validate TLR2 as a novel therapeutic target for reducing choroidal neovascularization.
Antisense oligonucleotides (AON) are synthetic single-stranded fragments of nucleic acids that bind to a specific complementary messenger RNA (mRNA) sequence and change the final gene product. AON were initially approved for treating cytomegalovirus retinitis and have shown promise in treating Mendelian systemic disease. AON are currently being investigated as a treatment modality for many ophthalmic diseases, including inherited retinal disorders (IRD), inflammatory response and wound healing after glaucoma surgery, and macular degeneration. They provide a possible solution to gene therapy for IRD that are not candidates for adeno-associated virus (AAV) delivery. This chapter outlines the historical background of AON and reviews clinical applications and ongoing clinical trials.
The mechanisms that connect complement system activation and basal deposit formation in early stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are insufficiently understood, which complicates the design of efficient therapies to prevent disease progression. Using human fetal (hf) retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, we have established an in vitro model to investigate the effect of complement C3a on RPE cells and its role in the formation of sub-RPE deposits. The results of these studies revealed that C3a produced after C3 activation is sufficient to induce the formation of sub-RPE deposits via complement-driven proteasome inhibition. C3a binds the C3a receptor (C3aR), stimulates deposition of collagens IV and VI underneath the RPE, and impairs the extracellular matrix (ECM) turnover by increased MMP-2 activity, all mediated by downregulation of the ubiquitin proteasome pathway (UPP). The formation of basal deposits can be prevented by the addition of a C3aR antagonist, which restores the UPP activity and ECM turnover. These findings indicate that the cell-based model can be used to test potential therapeutic agents in vitro. The data suggest that modulation of C3aR-mediated events could be a therapeutic approach for treatment of early AMD.
The design of efficient therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is limited by our understanding of the pathogenesis of basal deposits, which form between retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and Bruch's membrane (BrM) early in disease, and involve activation of the complement system. To investigate the roles of BrM, RPE and complement in an AMD, we generated abnormal extracellular matrix (ECM) using CRISPR-edited ARPE-19 cells. We introduced to these cells the p.R345W mutation in EFEMP1, which causes early-onset macular degeneration. The abnormal ECM binds active complement C3 and causes the formation of basal deposits by normal human fetal (hf)RPE cells. Human fetal RPE (hfRPE) cells grown on abnormal ECM or BrM explants from AMD donors show chronic activation of the alternative complement pathway by excessive deposition of C3b. This process is exacerbated by impaired ECM turnover via increased matrix metalloproteinase-2 activity. The local cleavage of C3 via convertase-independent mechanisms can be a new therapeutic target for early AMD.
PURPOSE: To determine the association of the multifocal electroretinographic (mfERG) response amplitude with the volumes of the inner, postreceptor, and photoreceptor retinal layers in the region stimulated by each mfERG element. METHODS: Sixteen healthy, young adult control subjects were studied. Each of the 103 hexagonal elements of the standard, scaled mfERG were aligned, where possible, with patches of retina imaged using optical coherence tomography. Stimuli falling on the fovea and on the optic nerve head were excluded. Linear mixed-effects modeling was then used to derive estimated coefficients (voltage/volume) for the mfERG response throughout the full 80 ms standard epoch. The resulting predicted response amplitudes originating in each layer were then compared to pharmacologically "dissected" mfERGs obtained from other studies in monkey eyes. RESULTS: Across the duration of the response, the amplitude of the modeled contribution from (1) the inner retina was small-to-modest, (2) the postreceptor retina was larger and contained two prominent peaks, and (3) the photoreceptor response was the largest and most closely paralleled the overall (i.e., intact) response, including late-appearing oscillations. The significance of each layer's contribution was greatest when the absolute amplitude of that layer's response was largest. The contribution of the inner retina was maximally significant in the interval between the prominent troughs and peaks of the intact response. The contributions of the postreceptor and photoreceptor responses were maximally significant at the prominent troughs and peaks of the intact response. CONCLUSIONS: The results of the model were in good overall agreement with previous interpretations of the cellular contributions to the mfERG. There was also fair agreement with pharmacologically dissected monkey mfERG responses. Thus, the estimations of the contributions of the retinal layers to the mfERG so produced appeared plausible.
PURPOSE: Intraocular gases are commonly used in vitreoretinal surgery. Patients are routinely advised against air travel before the complete absorption of intraocular gas. Consequently, reports on air travel in patients with large intraocular gas bubbles are highly unusual. Here, we report the intraocular pressure changes of a patient ascending to an altitude of 2,600 feet in a helicopter with a 50% fill perfluoropropane (C3F8) gas bubble in his left eye. METHODS: Case report and literature review. RESULTS: A 61-year-old male patient underwent pars plana vitrectomy for a rhegmatogenous retinal detachment, with fluid-gas exchange using 16% C3F8. With a 50% fill bubble in the left eye, the patient took a short helicopter trip ascending to a maximum altitude of 2,600 feet. Before take-off, intraocular pressure in the operated eye was 14 mmHg. The average increase in intraocular pressure was 10.8 mmHg per 1,000 feet of ascent, with a maximum recorded intraocular pressure of 42 mmHg. The patient denied both ocular pain and loss of vision but did report changes in the appearance of the gas bubble meniscus at 2,100 feet. CONCLUSION: Short-term low-altitude air travel may be tolerated by some patients with intraocular gas in situ. Further studies are required to define the conditions by which patients with gas bubbles may fly safely.
There is increasing evidence that VEGF-A antagonists may be detrimental to neuronal health following ocular administration. Here we investigated firstly the effects of VEGF-A neutralization on retinal neuronal survival in the Ins2(Akita) diabetic and JR5558 spontaneous choroidal neovascularization (CNV) mice, and then looked at potential mechanisms contributing to cell death. We detected elevated apoptosis in the ganglion cell layer in both these models following VEGF-A antagonism, indicating that even when vascular pathologies respond to treatment, neurons are still vulnerable to reduced VEGF-A levels. We observed that retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) seemed to be the cells most susceptible to VEGF-A antagonism, so we looked at anterograde transport in these cells, due to their long axons requiring optimal protein and organelle trafficking. Using cholera toxin B-subunit tracer studies, we found a distal reduction in transport in the superior colliculus following VEGF-A neutralization, which occurred prior to net RGC loss. This phenomenon of distal transport loss has been described as a feature of early pathological changes in glaucoma, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease models. Furthermore, we observed increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK and downstream Hsp27 stress pathway signaling in the retinas from these experiments, potentially providing a mechanistic explanation for our findings. These experiments further highlight the possible risks of using VEGF-A antagonists to treat ocular neovascular disease, and suggest that VEGF-A may contribute to the maintenance and function of axonal transport in neurons of the retina.
Pathological neovascularization, a leading cause of blindness, is seen in retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration. Using a mouse model of hypoxia-driven retinal neovascularization, we find that fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) administration suppresses, and FGF21 deficiency worsens, retinal neovessel growth. The protective effect of FGF21 against neovessel growth was abolished in adiponectin (APN)-deficient mice. FGF21 administration also decreased neovascular lesions in two models of neovascular age-related macular degeneration: very-low-density lipoprotein-receptor-deficient mice with retinal angiomatous proliferation and laser-induced choroidal neovascularization. FGF21 inhibited tumor necrosis α (TNF-α) expression but did not alter Vegfa expression in neovascular eyes. These data suggest that FGF21 may be a therapeutic target for pathologic vessel growth in patients with neovascular eye diseases, including retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration.
Neovascular eye diseases are a major cause of blindness including retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration in which new vessel formation is driven by hypoxia or metabolic abnormalities affecting the fuel supply. White-adipose-tissue derived adipokines such as adiponectin modulate metabolic responses. Increasing evidence shows that lack of adiponectin may result in retinal neovascularization. Activation of the adiponectin pathway may in turn restore energy metabolism, to suppress the drive for compensatory but ultimately pathological neovessels of retinopathy. In this review, we will summarize our current knowledge of the role of adiponectin in eye diseases of premature infants, diabetic patients as well as the elderly. Further investigations in this field are likely to lead to new preventative approaches for these diseases.
The tightly structured neural retina has a unique vascular network comprised of three interconnected plexuses in the inner retina (and choroid for outer retina), which provide oxygen and nutrients to neurons to maintain normal function. Clinical and experimental evidence suggests that neuronal metabolic needs control both normal retinal vascular development and pathological aberrant vascular growth. Particularly, photoreceptors, with the highest density of mitochondria in the body, regulate retinal vascular development by modulating angiogenic and inflammatory factors. Photoreceptor metabolic dysfunction, oxidative stress, and inflammation may cause adaptive but ultimately pathological retinal vascular responses, leading to blindness. Here we focus on the factors involved in neurovascular interactions, which are potential therapeutic targets to decrease energy demand and/or to increase energy production for neovascular retinal disorders.
The light-sensitive photoreceptors in the retina are extremely metabolically demanding and have the highest density of mitochondria of any cell in the body. Both physiological and pathological retinal vascular growth and regression are controlled by photoreceptor energy demands. It is critical to understand the energy demands of photoreceptors and fuel sources supplying them to understand neurovascular diseases. Retinas are very rich in lipids, which are continuously recycled as lipid-rich photoreceptor outer segments are shed and reformed and dietary intake of lipids modulates retinal lipid composition. Lipids (as well as glucose) are fuel substrates for photoreceptor mitochondria. Dyslipidemia contributes to the development and progression of retinal dysfunction in many eye diseases. Here, we review photoreceptor energy demands with a focus on lipid metabolism in retinal neurovascular disorders.
The vasa hyaloidea propria, a component of the fetal hyaloidal vasculature, is characterized by multiple persistent fetal vasculatures branching into the vitreous. We present a 4-month-old girl with stage 4 familial exudative vitreoretinopathy, with multiple ectopic retinal vessels extending into the vitreous, confirmed with fluorescein angiography, which was consistent with persistent vasa hyaloidea propia/retinae making contact with the retina. The patient underwent vitreoretinal surgery to address the retinal detachment, during which the patent stalks of the persistent vasa hyaloidea propia/retinae were transected.
PURPOSE: To report long-term results of treatment with intravitreal injections of aflibercept in a newly diagnosed case of Coats disease. METHODS: An 18-year-old man presented to the retina clinic of our hospital complaining of blurred vision in the right eye for the past 3 months. His past medical and ocular history were unremarkable. The best-corrected visual acuity was 20/200 in the right eye and 20/20 in the left eye. Fundoscopy in the right eye revealed extensive macular edema with a circinate ring of hard exudates in the posterior pole temporally to the macula. Optical coherence tomography demonstrated macular edema with subretinal fluid. Peripheral telangiectasias and light bulb aneurysms in the inferior temporal arcade as well as in the nasal far periphery were found in the right eye in fluorescein angiography, confirming the diagnosis of stage 2B Coats disease. The left eye was normal. RESULTS: The original therapeutic strategy proposed was antivascular endothelial growth factor injections in the right eye, followed by laser photocoagulation. However, the patient did not consent to laser treatment and was treated with aflibercept monotherapy with 8 monthly intravitreal injections of aflibercept, followed by 6 injections every 2 months for a total of 14 injections over a period of 2 years. The best-corrected visual acuity in the right eye improved to 20/25 while optical coherence tomography imaging revealed significant decrease in retinal thickness with resolution of macular edema, and fluorescein angiography demonstrated prominent regression of aneurysms and leakage. CONCLUSION: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first case treated with aflibercept monotherapy, suggesting the significant role of vascular endothelial growth factor in vascular permeability in Coats and supporting the rationale that antivascular endothelial growth factors are a valuable therapeutic option for Coats disease.
Georgiou M, Fujinami K, Vincent A, Nasser F, Khateb S, Vargas ME, Thiadens AAHJ, de Carvalho ER, Nguyen X-T-A, Cabral De Guimarães TA, Robson AG, Mahroo OA, Pontikos N, Arno G, Fujinami-Yokokawa Y, Leo SM, Liu X, Tsunoda K, Hayashi T, Jimenez-Rolando B, Martin-Merida MI, Avila-Fernandez A, Carreño E, Garcia-Sandoval B, Carmen A, Sharon D, Kohl S, Huckfeldt RM, Boon CJF, Banin E, Pennesi ME, Wissinger B, Webster AR, Héon E, Khan AO, Zrenner E, Michaelides M. KCNV2-associated Retinopathy: Detailed Retinal Phenotype and Structural Endpoints - KCNV2 Study Group Report 2. Am J Ophthalmol 2021;Abstract
PURPOSE: To describe the detailed retinal phenotype of KCNV2-associated retinopathy. STUDY DESIGN: Multicenter international retrospective case series. METHODS: Review of retinal imaging including fundus autofluorescence (FAF) and optical coherence tomography (OCT), including qualitative and quantitative analyses. RESULTS: Three distinct macular FAF features were identified: i) centrally increased signal (n=35, 41.7%), ii) DAF (n=27, 31.1%), and iii) ring of increased signal (n=37, 44.0%). Five distinct FAF groups were identified based on combinations of those characteristics, with 23.5% of patients changing FAF group over a mean (range) follow-up of 5.9 years (1.9-13.1 years). Qualitative assessment was performed by grading OCT into five grades: (i) continuous EZ (20.5%), (ii) EZ disruption (26.1%), (iii) EZ absence, without optical gap and with preserved retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) complex (21.6%); iv) loss of EZ and an hyporeflective zone at the foveola (6.8%); and (v) outer retina and RPE complex loss (25.0%). Eighty-six patients had scans available from both eyes, with 83 (96.5%) having the same grade in both eyes, and 36.1% changed OCT grade over a mean follow-up of 5.5 years. The annual rate of ONL thickness change was similar for right and left eyes. CONCLUSION: KCNV2-associated retinopathy is a slowly progressive disease with early retinal changes, which are predominantly symmetric between eyes. The identification of a single OCT or FAF measurement as an endpoint to determine progression that applies to all patients may be challenging; although ONL thickness is a potential biomarker. Findings suggest a potential window for intervention until 40 years of age.
Georgiou M, Robson AG, Fujinami K, Leo SM, Vincent A, Nasser F, Cabral De Guimarães TA, Khateb S, Pontikos N, Fujinami-Yokokawa Y, Liu X, Tsunoda K, Hayashi T, Vargas ME, Thiadens AAHJ, de Carvalho ER, Nguyen X-T-A, Arno G, Mahroo OA, Martin-Merida MI, Jimenez-Rolando B, Gordo G, Carreño E, Carmen A, Sharon D, Kohl S, Huckfeldt RM, Wissinger B, Boon CJF, Banin E, Pennesi ME, Khan AO, Webster AR, Zrenner E, Héon E, Michaelides M. KCNV2-associated Retinopathy: Genetics, Electrophysiology and Clinical Course - KCNV2 Study Group Report 1. Am J Ophthalmol 2020;Abstract
PURPOSE: To investigate genetics, electrophysiology and clinical course of KCNV2-associated retinopathy in a cohort of children and adults. STUDY DESIGN: Multicenter international clinical cohort study. METHODS: Review of clinical notes and molecular genetic testing. Full-field electroretinography (ERG) incorporating the international standards were reviewed and quantified and compared with age and recordings from control subjects. RESULTS: In total 230 disease-associated alleles were identified from 117 patients, corresponding to 75 different KCNV2 variants, with 28 being novel. The mean age of onset was 3.9 years old. All patients were symptomatic before the age of 12 years (age range: 0-11 years). Decreased visual acuity was present in all patients, and four other symptoms were common: reduced color vision (78.6%), photophobia (53.5%), nyctalopia (43.6%), and nystagmus (38.6%). After a mean follow of 8.4 years, the mean best corrected visual acuity (BCVA, ±SD) decreased from 0.81 LogMAR (0.27 LogMAR) to 0.90 LogMAR (0.31 LogMAR). Full-field ERGs showed pathognomonic waveform features. Quantitative assessment revealed a wide range of ERG amplitudes and peak times, with a mean rate of age-associated reduction indistinguishable from the control group. Mean amplitude reductions for the DA 0.01 ERG, DA 10 ERG a-wave, LA30Hz and LA3 ERG b-wave were 55%, 21%, 48% and 74% respectively. Peak times showed stability across 6 decades. CONCLUSION: In KCNV2-retinopathy full-field ERGs are diagnostic, and consistent with largely stable peripheral retinal dysfunction. Report No.1 highlights the severity of the clinical phenotype and established a large cohort of patients, emphasizing the unmet need for trials of novel therapeutics.
Purpose: Ocular findings such as retinal hemorrhages are common in abusive head trauma (AHT). Binocular indirect ophthalmoscopy has been the standard for assessing the eyes of children who are victims of AHT. However, technological advances have changed our understanding of retinal findings in AHT.Methods: Literature review on AHT - retinal findings, imaging technologies, models of representation, and telemedicine applications.Results: Many studies suggest vitreoretinal traction from repetitive acceleration-deceleration shearing forces during shaking plays an important role in the development of retinal findings in AHT. This is further supported by different imaging modalities [optical coherence tomography (OCT); magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); fluorescein angiography (FA)] and models of representation (animal and mechanical models; finite element analysis).Conclusion: Emerging technologies have augmented our diagnostic abilities, enhanced our understanding regarding the pathophysiology of retinal findings, and strengthened the link between vitreoretinal traction and ocular pathology in AHT. Telemedicine is also starting to play an important role in AHT.
This study defines retinal phosphatic metabolites and their adjustment to illumination in rat retinas under conditions that preserve retinal function. Metabolic data are measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (31P NMR) spectroscopy after 10 min of light exposure in vivo compared with retinas from dark-adapted rats. Multiple high-energy and low-energy phosphatic metabolites of intermediary metabolism were quantified. The concentration of the high-energy phosphate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) remained unchanged from dark- to light-adaptation. Under the same conditions the concentrations of the high-energy phosphates guanosine triphosphate (GTP) and creatine phosphate increased, whereas the inorganic phosphate decreased. Comparing dark-adapted controls with retinas light-adapted either in vitro or in vivo, the evidence is consistent with a light-dependent increase in GTP and a decrease in cyclic guanosine monophosphate. Although cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) levels were lower in retinas light-adapted in vivo than in the dark-adapted controls, this did not seem to be an effect of light, as cAMP levels decreased similarly after 10 min incubation in dark or light in parallel with recovery of ATP/adenosine diphosphate ratios. This study: (1) reports on retinal metabolic changes with adjustment in illumination, (2) provides baseline measurements of retinal phosphatic metabolites in whole retinas, and (3) reports on the validity of chromatographic and spectroscopic methods used for studying retinal metabolism establishing a high correlation among measurements made using HPLC and 31P NMR.
Neovascular eye diseases, including retinopathy of prematurity, diabetic retinopathy, and age-related macular degeneration, threaten the visual health of children and adults. Current treatment options, including anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy and laser retinal photocoagulation, have limitations and are associated with adverse effects; therefore, the identification of additional therapies is highly desirable. Both clinical and experimental studies show that dietary ω-3 (n-3) long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) reduce retinal and choroidal angiogenesis. The ω-3 LC-PUFA metabolites from 2 groups of enzymes, cyclooxygenases and lipoxygenases, inhibit [and the ω-6 (n-6) LC-PUFA metabolites promote] inflammation and angiogenesis. However, both of the ω-3 and the ω-6 lipid products of cytochrome P450 oxidase 2C promote neovascularization in both the retina and choroid, which suggests that inhibition of this pathway might be beneficial. This review summarizes our current understanding of the roles of ω-3 and ω-6 LC-PUFAs and their enzymatic metabolites in neovascular eye diseases.