Date Published:2014 Sep 24
Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is a nonneovascular blinding disease and the leading cause for failure in surgical repair of rhegmatogenous retinal detachments. Once formed, PVR is difficult to treat. Hence, there is an acute interest in developing approaches to prevent PVR. Of the many growth factors and cytokines that accumulate in vitreous as PVR develops, neutralizing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) A has recently been found to prevent PVR in at least one animal model. The goal of this study was to test if Food and Drug Administration-approved agents could protect the eye from PVR in multiple animal models and to further investigate the underlying mechanisms. Neutralizing VEGF with aflibercept (VEGF Trap-Eye) safely and effectively protected rabbits from PVR in multiple models of disease. Furthermore, aflibercept reduced the bioactivity of both experimental and clinical PVR vitreous. Finally, although VEGF could promote some PVR-associated cellular responses via VEGF receptors expressed on the retinal pigment epithelial cells that drive this disease, VEGF's major contribution to vitreal bioactivity occurred via platelet-derived growth factor receptor α. Thus, VEGF promotes PVR by a noncanonical ability to engage platelet-derived growth factor receptor α. These findings indicate that VEGF contributes to nonangiogenic diseases and that anti-VEGF-based therapies may be effective on a wider spectrum of diseases than previously appreciated.