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Kanu LN, Ciolino JB. Nerve Growth Factor as an Ocular Therapy: Applications, Challenges, and Future Directions. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):224-231.Abstract
Nerve growth factor (NGF), the prototypical neurotrophin first discovered in the 1950s, has recently garnered increased interest as a therapeutic agent promoting neuronal health and regeneration. After gaining orphan drug status within the last decade, NGF-related research and drug development has accelerated. The purpose of this article is to review the preclinical and clinical evidence of NGF in various applications, including central and peripheral nervous system, skin, and ophthalmic disorders. We focus on the ophthalmic applications including not only the FDA-approved indication of neurotrophic keratitis but also retinal disease and glaucoma. NGF represents a promising therapy whose therapeutic profile is evolving. The challenges related to this therapy are reviewed, along with possible solutions and future directions.
Luo ZK, Domenech-Estarellas EA, Han A, Lee D, Khatri R, Wahl JL, Cutler C, Armand P, Antin JH, Koreth J, Gooptu M, Alyea EP, Soiffer RJ, Ho VT. Efficacy and Safety of 1% Progesterone Gel to the Forehead for Ocular Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease. Transplant Cell Ther 2021;27(5):433.e1-433.e8.Abstract
There is no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for ocular chronic graft-versus-host disease (oGVHD) to date, and current therapeutic options are limited. Forehead application of 1% progesterone gel provides corneal antinociception in preclinical models, suggesting it may be useful in alleviating ocular irritations. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 1% progesterone gel in treating moderate to severe symptomatic oGVHD. Thirty-three patients with oGVHD following allogeneic stem cell transplantation were enrolled in this single-center, sponsor-initiated, prospective exploratory randomized double-masked placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial. The inclusion criteria included a National Institutes of Health consensus score of ≥2, moderate to severe ocular discomfort level, and receipt of a stable immunosuppression regimen. Twenty-one of the 22 patients in the progesterone arm and all 11 patients in the placebo arm completed the course of twice-daily forehead drug application for 10 weeks. The changes from baseline of self-reported ocular symptom scores and physician-recorded cornea fluorescein staining scores were analyzed using mixed-model repeated-measures regression model in an intention-to-treat population. The 33 patients included 12 women and 21 men, with a median age of 66 years (range, 24 to 75 years). At 10 weeks, there was a significant reduction in ocular symptoms from baseline in the progesterone group compared with the placebo group in symptom frequency (-30.7 versus -2.2; P < .001) and severity (-19.8 versus +1.6; P = .005). At 10 weeks, there was also greater reduction of cornea fluorescein staining centrally (-1.2 versus +.1; P = .001) and inferiorly (-1.4 versus -0.2; P = .005). No difference was noted in superior cornea staining. There were no severe adverse events in the progesterone group. Forehead application of 1% progesterone gel significantly improved ocular signs and symptoms within 10 weeks. It appears to be a safe and effective new therapy for oGVHD, and a novel mechanism for neuroaxis drug delivery. A multicenter phase III clinical trial is planned for further validation.
Celebi ARC, Park EA, Verticchio Vercellin AC, Tsikata E, Lee R, Shieh E, Antar H, Freeman M, Zhang J, Que C, Simavli H, McClurkin M, Guo R, Elze T, de Boer JF, Chen TC. Structure-Function Mapping Using a Three-Dimensional Neuroretinal Rim Parameter Derived From Spectral Domain Optical Coherence Tomography Volume Scans. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2021;10(6):28.Abstract
Purpose: To assess the structure-function relationship in glaucoma using Humphrey visual field (HVF) perimetry and a three-dimensional neuroretinal rim parameter derived from spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) volume scans. Methods: Structure-function correlation was analyzed globally and regionally (four quadrants and four sectors). Structural data included peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thickness and minimum distance band (MDB) neuroretinal rim thickness, defined as the shortest distance between the inner cup surface and the outer retinal pigment epithelium/Bruch's membrane complex. Logarithmic regression analyses were performed and Pearson correlation coefficients determined to assess relationship strength. Results: The study consisted of 102 open-angle glaucoma patients and 58 healthy subjects. The Pearson correlation coefficient for global MDB thickness (R = 0.585) was higher than for global RNFL thickness (R = 0.492), but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.18). The correlation coefficients for regional MDB thicknesses and corresponding HVF sensitivities were higher than those for regional RNFL thicknesses and HVF in six out of eight regions (P = 0.08 to 0.47). In the remaining two out of eight regions, the correlation coefficients were higher for RNFL thickness than for MDB thickness (P = 0.15 to 0.20). Conclusions: Three-dimensional MDB neuroretinal rim thickness relates to visual function as strongly as the most commonly used SD-OCT parameter for glaucoma, two-dimensional peripapillary RNFL thickness. Translational Relevance: This paper illustrates the potential for 3D OCT algorithms to improve in vivo imaging in glaucoma.
Oke I, Vanderveen D. Machine Learning Applications in Pediatric Ophthalmology. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):210-217.Abstract
Purpose : To describe emerging applications of machine learning (ML) in pediatric ophthalmology with an emphasis on the diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting visual development. Methods : Literature review of studies applying ML algorithms to problems in pediatric ophthalmology. Results : At present, the ML literature emphasizes applications in retinopathy of prematurity. However, there are increasing efforts to apply ML techniques in the diagnosis of amblyogenic conditions such as pediatric cataracts, strabismus, and high refractive error. Conclusions : A greater understanding of the principles governing ML will enable pediatric eye care providers to apply the methodology to unexplored challenges within the subspecialty.
Chwalisz BK. Cerebral amyloid angiopathy and related inflammatory disorders. J Neurol Sci 2021;424:117425.Abstract
Inflammatory cerebral amyloid angiopathy is a largely reversible inflammatory vasculopathy that develops in an acute or subacute fashion in reaction to amyloid protein deposition in the central nervous system blood vessels. There are two recognized pathologically characterized variants: cerebral amyloid angiopathy-related inflammation (CAAri) and A beta-related angiitis (ABRA). Both variants produce a clinical picture that resembles primary angiitis of the CNS but is distinguished by a characteristic radiologic appearance. Although originally defined as a clinicopathologic diagnosis, it can now often be diagnosed based on clinicoradiologic criteria, though confirmation with brain and meningeal biopsy is still required in some cases. This disorder typically responds to steroids but addition of other immune suppressants may be needed in some cases to control the disease.
Mukharesh L, Chwalisz BK. Neuro-ophthalmic Complications of Immune-Checkpoint Inhibitors. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):241-249.Abstract
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionized the field of oncology by modulating the immune cell-cancer cell interaction and thereby promoting immune system disinhibition in order to target several types of malignancies. There are three classes of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs): anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4), anti-programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1), and anti-programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1).It is not uncommon for physicians across all specialties to encounter a patient with a history of malignancy and ICI exposure, necessitating familiarity with their potential complications. In this review article, we discuss the most common immune-related adverse events (irAEs) pertaining to the central and peripheral nervous systems and their potential afferent and efferent neuro-ophthalmic manifestations. Early recognition and treatment of these irAEs, and discontinuation of the offending ICI are all critical steps to prevent morbidity and mortality.
Saitakis G, Chwalisz BK. The neurology of IGG4-related disease. J Neurol Sci 2021;424:117420.Abstract
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: IgG4-related disease (IgG4-RD) is emerging as a fibro-inflammatory entity affecting multiple organs, including manifold neurologic manifestations. This review discusses general characteristics of IgG4-RD neurologic disease including epidemiology, histology, clinical picture and treatment approaches. RECENT FINDINGS: IgG4-RD is increasingly recognized as an important underlying pathophysiology in multiple disorders of neurologic interest, including orbital inflammation, infundibulo-hypophysitis, hypertrophic pachymeningitis, and even in rare cases CNS parenchymal disease and cranial vascular involvement. These were previously considered idiopathic and unrelated to any systemic disease but now known to share a common histopathology. New knowledge regarding the pathogenesis, clinical features and epidemiology of IgG4 is emerging, and new neurological manifestations continue to be described. Diagnostic progress includes CT-PET imaging, the use of flow cytometry for plasmablast quantification, and the use of reverse passive latex agglutination aiming to overcome the prozone phenomenon. Histopathologic confirmation of IgG4-RD remains the gold standard method of diagnosis but new diagnostic criteria for systemic and organ-specific disease are being proposed. Though glucorticoids remain the mainstay of therapy, relapses and incomplete recovery are frequent. Rituximab is a promising treatment in IgG4-RD that is severe, refractory or glucocorticoid dependent. Initiation of immunosuppression at an early stage of disease should be considered in order to avoid development of refractory fibrosis. SUMMARY: The current review emphasizes the neurologic manifestations of IgG4-RD.
Khajavi M, Zhou Y, Schiffer AJ, Bazinet L, Birsner AE, Zon L, D'Amato RJ. Identification of Basp1 as a novel angiogenesis-regulating gene by multi-model system studies. FASEB J 2021;35(5):e21404.Abstract
We have previously used the genetic diversity available in common inbred mouse strains to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) responsible for the differences in angiogenic response using the corneal micropocket neovascularization (CoNV) assay. Employing a mouse genome-wide association study (GWAS) approach, the region on chromosome 15 containing Basp1 was identified as being significantly associated with angiogenesis in inbred strains. Here, we developed a unique strategy to determine and verify the role of BASP1 in angiogenic pathways. Basp1 expression in cornea had a strong correlation with a haplotype shared by mouse strains with varied angiogenic phenotypes. In addition, inhibition of BASP1 demonstrated a dosage-dependent effect in both primary mouse brain endothelial and human microvascular endothelial cell (HMVEC) migration. To investigate its role in vivo, we knocked out basp1 in transgenic kdrl:zsGreen zebrafish embryos using a widely adopted CRISPR-Cas9 system. These embryos had severely disrupted vessel formation compared to control siblings. We further show that basp1 promotes angiogenesis by upregulating β-catenin gene and the Dll4/Notch1 signaling pathway. These results, to the best of our knowledge, provide the first in vivo evidence to indicate the role of Basp1 as an angiogenesis-regulating gene and opens the potential therapeutic avenues for a wide variety of systemic angiogenesis-dependent diseases.
da Cunha LP, Cavalcante Costa MAA, de Miranda HA, Reis Guimarães J, Aihara T, Ludwig CA, Rosenblatt T, Callaway NF, Pasricha M, Al-Moujahed A, Vail D, Ji MH, Kumm J, Moshfeghi DM. Comparison between wide-field digital imaging system and the red reflex test for universal newborn eye screening in Brazil. Acta Ophthalmol 2021;99(7):e1198-e1205.Abstract
PURPOSE: To compare neonatal eye screening using the red reflex test (RRT) versus the wide-field digital imaging (WFDI) system. METHODS: Prospective cohort study. Newborns (n = 380, 760 eyes) in the Maternity Ward of Irmandade Santa Casa de Misericórdia de São Paulo hospital from May to July 2014 underwent RRT by a paediatrician and WFDI performed by the authors. Wide-field digital imaging (WFDI) images were analysed by the authors. Validity of the paediatrician's RRT was assessed by unweighted kappa [κ] statistic, sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV). RESULTS: While WFDI showed abnormalities in 130 eyes (17.1%), RRT was only abnormal in 13 eyes (1.7%). Wide-field digital imaging (WFDI) detected treatable retina pathology that RRT missed including hyphema, CMV retinitis, FEVR and a vitreous haemorrhage. The sensitivity of the paediatrician's RRT to detect abnormalities was poor at 0.77% (95% confidence interval, CI, 0.02%-4.21%) with a PPV of only 7.69% (95% CI, 1.08%-38.85%). Overall, there was no agreement between screening modalities (κ = -0.02, 95% CI, -0.05 to 0.01). The number needed to screen to detect ocular abnormalities using WFDI was 5.9 newborns and to detect treatable abnormalities was 76 newborns. CONCLUSION: While RRT detects gross abnormalities that preclude visualization of the retina (i.e. media opacities and very large tumours), only WFDI consistently detects subtle treatable retina and optic nerve pathology. With a higher sensitivity than the current gold standard, universal WFDI allows for early detection and management of potentially blinding ophthalmic disease missed by RRT.
Ma J, Chen M, Ai J, Young MJ, Ge J. Enhanced migration of engrafted retinal progenitor cells into the host retina via disruption of glial barriers. Mol Vis 2021;27:300-308.Abstract
Purpose: Migration and integration remain critical challenges for stem cell replacement therapy. Glial barriers play an important role in preventing cell migration and integration. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect and mechanisms of chondroitinase ABC on the migration of murine retinal progenitor cells (mRPCs) transplanted into the subretinal space of B6 mice. Methods: mRPCs were harvested from the neural retinas of P1 enhanced green fluorescent protein (GFP) B6 mice. Two μl containing 2 × 105 expanded RPCs alone or combined with chondroitinase ABC in suspension were injected into the subretinal space of the recipient B6 mice. Immunohistochemistry was performed on the recipient B6 retinas to evaluate the glial barrier formation and migration of the mRPCs. Western blotting was also used to check the expression of the glial barriers. Results: Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and vimentin could be seen around the transplanted mRPCs in the B6 mice. Formation of glial barriers prevented the migration of donor cells into the retinal layers. Chondroitinase ABC promoted the migration and survival rates of the engrafted retinal progenitor cells in the retinal layers of recipient B6 mice. Injection induced upregulation of GFAP, chondroitin, and CD44 expression. Chondroitinase ABC disrupted the glial barriers. The CD44 around the mRPCs was much lower in the chondroitinase group. However, the CD44 in the retinal layers was considerably higher in the chondroitinase group. With the employment of chondroitinase ABC, more cells migrated into the outer nuclear layer or inner nuclear layer. The chondroitin and CD44 expression decreased 3 weeks after transplantation in the chondroitinase ABC group. Conclusions: Chondroitinase ABC degraded glial barriers and enhanced the migration of transplanted mouse retinal progenitor cells. Chondroitinase ABC may also have induced activation of the CD44 signaling pathway to exert the effect.
Ferenchak K, Deitch I, Huckfeldt R. Antisense Oligonucleotide Therapy for Ophthalmic Conditions. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(5-6):452-457.Abstract
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.
Yin J. Advances in corneal graft rejection. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2021;32(4):331-337.Abstract
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Immune rejection after corneal transplantation is a major risk for graft failure. We aim to summarize recent advances in the understanding and management of graft rejection. RECENT FINDINGS: Immune rejection remains the leading cause of graft failure in penetrating keratoplasty (PKP). While ABO blood type and sex match between donor and recipient may reduce rejection, human leucocyte antigens class II matching in a randomized study did not reduce the risk of rejection in high-risk PKP. Compared with PKP, deep anterior lamellar keratoplasty, descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty, and descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty have lower immune rejection rates of 1.7-13%, 5-11.4%, and 1.7-2.8%, respectively, based on long-term (5 years and more) studies. Whether immune rejection is a major risk factor for graft failure in these lamellar keratoplasties is unclear. While there have not been major advances in the systemic management of graft rejection, topical nonsteroid agents such as tacrolimus and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor have shown promise in high-risk cases. SUMMARY: Immune rejection remains the leading cause of graft failure in PKP. Lamellar keratoplasties have significantly lower rejection rates compared with PKP. The significance of rejection in the failure of lamellar grafts warrants further investigation.
Chan CK, Mein CE, Glassman AR, Beaulieu WT, Calhoun CT, Jaffe GJ, Jampol LM, MacCumber MW, Maguire MG, Maturi RK, Salehi-Had H, Rofagha S, Sun JK, Martin DF, Martin DF. Pneumatic Vitreolysis with Perfluoropropane for Vitreomacular Traction with and without Macular Hole: DRCR Retina Network Protocols AG and AH. Ophthalmology 2021;128(11):1592-1603.Abstract
PURPOSE: To evaluate pneumatic vitreolysis (PVL) in eyes with vitreomacular traction (VMT) with and without full-thickness macular hole (FTMH). DESIGN: Two multicenter (28 sites) studies: a randomized clinical trial comparing PVL with observation (sham injection) for VMT without FTMH (Protocol AG) and a single-arm study assessing PVL for FTMH (Protocol AH). PARTICIPANTS: Participants were adults with central VMT (vitreomacular adhesion was ≤3000 μm). In Protocol AG, visual acuity (VA) was 20/32 to 20/400. In Protocol AH, eyes had a FTMH (≤250 μm at the narrowest point) and VA of 20/25 to 20/400. METHODS: Pneumatic vitreolysis using perfluoropropane (C3F8) gas. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Central VMT release at 24 weeks (Protocol AG) and FTMH closure at 8 weeks (Protocol AH). RESULTS: From October 2018 through February 2020, 46 participants were enrolled in Protocol AG, and 35 were enrolled in Protocol AH. Higher than expected rates of retinal detachment and tear resulted in early termination of both protocols. Combining studies, 7 of 59 eyes (12% [95% CI, 6%-23%]; 2 eyes in Protocol AG, 5 eyes in Protocol AH) that received PVL developed rhegmatogenous retinal detachment (n = 6) or retinal tear (n = 1). At 24 weeks in Protocol AG, 18 of 23 eyes in the PVL group (78%) versus 2 of 22 eyes in the sham group (9%) achieved central VMT release without rescue vitrectomy (adjusted risk difference, 66% [95% CI, 44%-88%]; P< 0.001). The mean change in VA from baseline at 24 weeks was 6.7 letters in the PVL group and 6.1 letters in the sham group (adjusted difference, -0.8 [95% CI, -6.1 to 4.5]; P = 0.77). In Protocol AH, 10 of 35 eyes (29% [95% CI, 16%-45%]) achieved FTMH closure without rescue vitrectomy at 8 weeks. The mean change in VA from baseline at 8 weeks was -1.5 letters (95% CI, -10.3 to 7.3 letters). CONCLUSIONS: In most eyes with VMT, PVL induced hyaloid release. In eyes with FTMH, PVL resulted in hole closure in approximately one third of eyes. These studies were terminated early because of safety concerns related to retinal detachments and retinal tears.
Currant H, Hysi P, Fitzgerald TW, Gharahkhani P, Bonnemaijer PWM, Senabouth A, Hewitt AW, and Consortium UKBEV, and Consortium UKBEV, Atan D, Aung T, Charng J, Choquet H, Craig J, Khaw PT, Klaver CCW, Kubo M, Ong J-S, Pasquale LR, Reisman CA, Daniszewski M, Powell JE, Pébay A, Simcoe MJ, Thiadens AAHJ, van Duijn CM, Yazar S, Jorgenson E, Macgregor S, Hammond CJ, Mackey DA, Wiggs JL, Foster PJ, Patel PJ, Birney E, Khawaja AP. Genetic variation affects morphological retinal phenotypes extracted from UK Biobank optical coherence tomography images. PLoS Genet 2021;17(5):e1009497.Abstract
Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) enables non-invasive imaging of the retina and is used to diagnose and manage ophthalmic diseases including glaucoma. We present the first large-scale genome-wide association study of inner retinal morphology using phenotypes derived from OCT images of 31,434 UK Biobank participants. We identify 46 loci associated with thickness of the retinal nerve fibre layer or ganglion cell inner plexiform layer. Only one of these loci has been associated with glaucoma, and despite its clear role as a biomarker for the disease, Mendelian randomisation does not support inner retinal thickness being on the same genetic causal pathway as glaucoma. We extracted overall retinal thickness at the fovea, representative of foveal hypoplasia, with which three of the 46 SNPs were associated. We additionally associate these three loci with visual acuity. In contrast to the Mendelian causes of severe foveal hypoplasia, our results suggest a spectrum of foveal hypoplasia, in part genetically determined, with consequences on visual function.

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