Primo V, Graham M, Bigger-Allen AA, Chick JM, Ospina C, Quiroz YT, Manent J, Gygi SP, Lopera F, D'Amore PA, Arboleda-Velasquez JF. Blood biomarkers in a mouse model of CADASIL. Brain Res 2016;1644:118-26.Abstract

Mutations in NOTCH 3 are the cause of cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL), a neurological disorder characterized by stroke, and vascular cognitive impairment and dementia. Loss of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC) and accumulation of granular osmiophilic material (GOM) deposits are hallmarks of CADASIL. There are no therapies for CADASIL and experimental endpoints to examine the preclinical efficacy of potential drugs are lacking. This study aims to use a mouse carrying the C455R mutation in Notch 3 to identify biomarkers associated with CADASIL. Mass spectrometry and antibody arrays were used to explore the aorta and blood proteomes of CADASIL mice, ELISA assays were utilized for biomarker validation, a ligand-dependent assay was applied to examine the relationship between Notch signaling and biomarker expression, and retinal histology was performed for quantification of VSMC loss in arteries. Two-hundred day-old mice with the C455R CADASIL mutation in Notch 3 mice display robust VSMC loss in retinal arteries and had increased plasma levels of collagen18α1/endostatin (col18α1) and high-temperature requirement A serine peptidase 1 (HTRA1) and reduced levels of Notch 3 extracellular domain (N3ECD), compared to control wild type mice. Measurements of plasma endostatin, HTRA1 and N3ECD, along with VSMC quantification in retinal arteries, may serve as surrogate endpoints for assessing efficacy in preclinical therapeutic studies of CADASIL using mice.

Foxton R, Osborne A, Martin KR, Ng Y-S, Shima DT. Distal retinal ganglion cell axon transport loss and activation of p38 MAPK stress pathway following VEGF-A antagonism. Cell Death Dis 2016;7:e2212.Abstract

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.

Silpa-Archa S, Lee JJ, Boonsopon S, Lizárraga MT, Preble JM, Sujirarat D, Patel P, Foster SC. POOR PROGNOSTIC FACTORS IN PATIENTS WITH BIRDSHOT RETINOCHOROIDOPATHY. Retina 2016;36(11):2220-2226.Abstract

PURPOSE: To identify prognostic factors for poor visual outcome in patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy. METHODS: A case-control study of 98 patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy (196 eyes) was evaluated with a follow-up period of at least 12 months. After exclusion of glaucoma, optic atrophy, and macular scar, the remaining eligible patients were categorized into two groups: poor visual outcomes and good visual outcomes. Poor visual outcome was defined as less than -6 mean deviation score on Swedish interactive threshold algorithm (SITA) short-wavelength automated perimetry (SWAP) test and abnormality (amplitude or implicit time) of 30 Hz flicker electroretinogram at 4-year follow-up and at the most recent visit for separate analysis. Potential factors between both groups were statistically analyzed by Chi-square test and logistic regression model. RESULTS: After the aforementioned exclusion, the remaining 77 patients with an average follow-up period of 52 ± 29 months (335 person-years, 36% with follow-up of more than 5 years) were divided into two groups. Sixteen patients were categorized as having poor visual outcome. Univariate analysis identified significant association of abnormal 30 Hz flicker electroretinogram amplitude (P = 0.004), implicit time (P = 0.002), and SITA SWAP mean deviation at the initial visit (P < 0.001) in the poor visual outcome group. Multivariate logistic regression analysis identified only SITA SWAP mean deviation to be associated with poor visual outcome (adjusted odds ratio, 32.50; 95% confidence interval [3.84-275.32]; P = 0.001) at the initial visit. To verify the model validity, an analysis of 42 patients at 4-year follow-up was performed and the outcome was confirmed (adjusted odds ratio, 8.80; 95% confidence interval [1.58-49.16]; P = 0.013). CONCLUSION: Worse SITA SWAP mean deviation at the initial visit is a predictor of poor visual outcome in patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy, and may serve as a proxy marker for delayed effective steroid sparing therapy in patients with birdshot retinochoroidopathy.

Stryjewski TP, Papakostas TD, Eliott D. Multimodal Imaging of Elschnig Spots: A Case of Simultaneous Hypertensive Retinopathy, Choroidopathy, and Neuropathy. Semin Ophthalmol 2016;:1-3.Abstract

A 65-year-old woman with chronic hypertension, chronic renal insufficiency, and schizophrenia self-discontinued her medications and presented complaining of decreased vision; she was found to have a blood pressure of 256/156 and visual acuity 20/70 OD. In the emergency department, her blood pressure was rapidly lowered to a nadir of 134/104. During the course of her hospitalization, her visual acuity declined from 20/70 to 20/200 OD in parallel with a decline in her renal function. Multi-modal imaging revealed simultaneous hypertensive retinopathy, choroidopathy, and optic neuropathy. Autofluorescence can play an important role in the diagnosis of hypertensive choroidopathy.

Joyal J-S, Sun Y, Gantner ML, Shao Z, Evans LP, Saba N, Fredrick T, Burnim S, Kim JS, Patel G, Juan AM, Hurst CG, Hatton CJ, Cui Z, Pierce KA, Bherer P, Aguilar E, Powner MB, Vevis K, Boisvert M, Fu Z, Levy E, Fruttiger M, Packard A, Rezende FA, Maranda B, Sapieha P, Chen J, Friedlander M, Clish CB, Smith LEH. Retinal lipid and glucose metabolism dictates angiogenesis through the lipid sensor Ffar1. Nat Med 2016;22(4):439-45.Abstract

Tissues with high metabolic rates often use lipids, as well as glucose, for energy, conferring a survival advantage during feast and famine. Current dogma suggests that high-energy-consuming photoreceptors depend on glucose. Here we show that the retina also uses fatty acid β-oxidation for energy. Moreover, we identify a lipid sensor, free fatty acid receptor 1 (Ffar1), that curbs glucose uptake when fatty acids are available. Very-low-density lipoprotein receptor (Vldlr), which is present in photoreceptors and is expressed in other tissues with a high metabolic rate, facilitates the uptake of triglyceride-derived fatty acid. In the retinas of Vldlr(-/-) mice with low fatty acid uptake but high circulating lipid levels, we found that Ffar1 suppresses expression of the glucose transporter Glut1. Impaired glucose entry into photoreceptors results in a dual (lipid and glucose) fuel shortage and a reduction in the levels of the Krebs cycle intermediate α-ketoglutarate (α-KG). Low α-KG levels promotes stabilization of hypoxia-induced factor 1a (Hif1a) and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor A (Vegfa) by starved Vldlr(-/-) photoreceptors, leading to neovascularization. The aberrant vessels in the Vldlr(-/-) retinas, which invade normally avascular photoreceptors, are reminiscent of the vascular defects in retinal angiomatous proliferation, a subset of neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is associated with high vitreous VEGFA levels in humans. Dysregulated lipid and glucose photoreceptor energy metabolism may therefore be a driving force in macular telangiectasia, neovascular AMD and other retinal diseases.

Miller JW. VEGF: From Discovery to Therapy: The Champalimaud Award Lecture. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2016;5(2):9.Abstract

PURPOSE: Intraocular vascular diseases are leading causes of adult vision loss, and in the mid-1900s, I. C. Michaelson postulated that the retina releases a soluble, diffusible factor that causes abnormal vascular growth and leakage. What became known as "Factor X" eluded investigators for decades. METHODS: The field of cancer research, where Judah Folkman pioneered the concept of angiogenesis, provided the inspiration for the work honored by the 2014 Champalimaud Vision Award. Recognizing that tumors recruit their own blood supply to achieve critical mass, Dr Folkman proposed that angiogenic factors could be therapeutic targets in cancer. Napoleone Ferrara identified vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) as such an angiogenic agent: stimulated by hypoxic tumor tissue, secreted, and able to induce neovascularization. VEGF also was a candidate for Factor X, and the 2014 Champalimaud Laureates and colleagues worked individually and collaboratively to identify the role of VEGF in ocular disease. RESULTS: The Champalimaud Laureates correlated VEGF with ocular neovascularization in animal models and in patients. Moreover, they showed that VEGF not only was sufficient, but it also was required to induce neovascularization in normal animal eyes, as VEGF inhibition abolished ocular neovascularization in key animal models. CONCLUSIONS: The identification of VEGF as Factor X altered the therapeutic paradigms for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, and other retinal disorders. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: The translation of VEGF from discovery to therapy resulted in the most successful applications of antiangiogenic therapy to date. Annually, over one million patients with eye disease are treated with anti-VEGF agents.

Im M, Fried SI. Temporal properties of network-mediated responses to repetitive stimuli are dependent upon retinal ganglion cell type. J Neural Eng 2016;13(2):025002.Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To provide artificially-elicited vision that is temporally dynamic, retinal prosthetic devices will need to repeatedly stimulate retinal neurons. However, given the diversity of physiological types of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) as well as the heterogeneity of their responses to electric stimulation, temporal properties of RGC responses have not been adequately investigated. Here, we explored the cell type dependence of network-mediated RGC responses to repetitive electric stimulation at various stimulation rates. APPROACH: We examined responses of ON and OFF types of RGCs in the rabbit retinal explant to five consecutive stimuli with varying inter-stimulus intervals (10-1000 ms). Each stimulus was a 4 ms long monophasic sinusoidal cathodal current, which was applied epiretinally via a conical electrode. Spiking activity of targeted RGCs was recorded using a cell-attached patch electrode. MAIN RESULTS: ON and OFF cells had distinct responses to repetitive stimuli. Consistent with earlier studies, OFF cells always generated reduced responses to subsequent stimuli compared to responses to the first stimulus. In contrast, a new stimulus to ON cells suppressed all pending/ongoing responses from previous stimuli and initiated its own response that was remarkably similar to the response from a single stimulus in isolation. This previously unreported 'reset' behavior was observed exclusively and consistently in ON cells. These contrasts between ON and OFF cells created a range of stimulation rates (4-7 Hz) that maximized the ratio of the responses arising in ON versus OFF cells. SIGNIFICANCE: Previous clinical testing reported that subjects perceive bright phosphenes (ON responses) and also prefer stimulation rates of 5-7 Hz. Our results suggest that responses of ON cells are weak at high rates of stimulation (> ∼7 Hz) due to the reset while responses of OFF cells are strong at low rates (< ∼4 Hz) due to reduced desensitization, both reducing the ratio of ON to OFF responses. In combination with previous results indicating that responses in ON cells more closely match physiological patterns (Im and Fried 2015 J. Physiol. 593 3577-96), our results offer a potential reason for the user preference of intermediate rates (5-7 Hz).

Kumase F, Takeuchi K, Morizane Y, Suzuki J, Matsumoto H, Kataoka K, Al-Moujahed A, Maidana DE, Miller JW, Vavvas DG. AMPK-Activated Protein Kinase Suppresses Ccr2 Expression by Inhibiting the NF-κB Pathway in RAW264.7 Macrophages. PLoS One 2016;11(1):e0147279.Abstract

C-C chemokine receptor 2 (Ccr2) is a key pro-inflammatory marker of classic (M1) macrophage activation. Although Ccr2 is known to be expressed both constitutively and inductively, the full regulatory mechanism of its expression remains unclear. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is not only a master regulator of energy homeostasis but also a central regulator of inflammation. In this study, we sought to assess AMPK's role in regulating RAW264.7 macrophage Ccr2 protein levels in resting (M0) or LPS-induced M1 states. In both M0 and M1 RAW264.7 macrophages, knockdown of the AMPKα1 subunit by siRNA led to increased Ccr2 levels whereas pharmacologic (A769662) activation of AMPK, attenuated LPS-induced increases in Ccr2 expression in an AMPK dependent fashion. The increases in Ccr2 levels by AMPK downregulation were partially reversed by NF-κB inhibition whereas TNF-a inhibition had minimal effects. Our results indicate that AMPK is a negative regulator of Ccr2 expression in RAW264.7 macrophages, and that the mechanism of action of AMPK inhibition of Ccr2 is mediated, in part, through the NF-κB pathway.

Silva PS, Cavallerano JD, Haddad NMN, Tolls D, Thakore K, Patel B, Sehizadeh M, Tolson AM, Sun JK, Aiello LP. Comparison of Nondiabetic Retinal Findings Identified With Nonmydriatic Fundus Photography vs Ultrawide Field Imaging in an Ocular Telehealth Program. JAMA Ophthalmol 2016;134(3):330-4.Abstract

IMPORTANCE: Ultrawide field imaging (UWFI) is increasingly being used in teleophthalmology settings. Given the greater area of the retina imaged, we evaluated the ability of UWFI vs nonmydriatic fundus photography (NMFP) to detect nondiabetic retinal findings in a teleophthalmology program. OBSERVATION: We conducted a retrospective single-center comparative cohort study from January 1, 2011, to June 30, 2013, imaging 3864 and 3971 consecutive teleophthalmology patients (7728 and 7942 eyes) using NMFP and UWFI, respectively. Standard diabetic retinopathy evaluation and nondiabetic findings were compared between the 2 imaging modalities. In patients without diabetic retinopathy (2243 by NMFP and 2252 by UWFI), the rate of identification of nondiabetic findings by NMFP (451 patients [20.1%]) and UWFI (490 [21.8%]) were comparable (P = .19). Ultrawide field imaging increased the identification of choroidal nevi by 27% (406 eyes [5.3%] by NMFP vs 545 eyes [6.9%] by UWFI; P < .001) and chorioretinal atrophy or scarring by 116% (50 eyes [0.6%] by NMFP vs 101 eyes [1.3%] by UWFI; P < .001). No peripheral retinal findings were identified with NMFP, while UWFI detected 25 retinal tears (0.3%; P < .001), 54 lattice and peripheral degenerations (0.7%; P < .001), and 142 cases of vitreous detachment or floaters (1.8%; P < .001). Data analysis was performed from November 1, 2013, to May 1, 2014. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In eyes without diabetic retinopathy, approximately 20% may have ocular findings identified on retinal imaging, which emphasizes the role of retinal imaging in patients with diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2 regardless of the severity of retinopathy. In this cohort, UWFI increased the identification of peripheral retinal and vitreous pathologic findings.

Vodopivec I, Prasad S. Treatment of Susac Syndrome. Curr Treat Options Neurol 2016;18(1):3.Abstract

OPINION STATEMENT: Susac syndrome is a microangiopathy of the brain, retina, and cochlea. Several lines of evidence support the concept that this disease is an acquired autoimmune disorder. Prospective, randomized, controlled studies of treatments are not available because the disease is rare. Furthermore, the average period of follow-up in reported cases is short, limiting a complete understanding of the natural history of the disease. Empirical treatment strategies are therefore based upon expert recommendations and anecdotal reports of response to various immunomodulators, and the appropriate duration of therapy is not known. In our opinion, the encephalopathic form of Susac syndrome should be treated early and aggressively to avoid cognitive dysfunction and disability. Induction therapy with pulse methylprednisolone frequently proves to be inadequate. Additional agents, including intravenous immunoglobulins, intravenous cyclophosphamide, or rituximab are often necessary to induce a sustained remission. Maintenance therapy with oral glucocorticoids combined with intravenous immunoglobulins, mycophenolate mofetil, methotrexate, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, or rituximab is typically necessary to achieve a sustained remission. Aspirin may be used as an adjunctive agent, although evidence showing efficacy is scant. The response to treatment should be closely monitored by frequent clinical examinations, brain MRI, and fluorescein angiography. Once disease remission has been established, it appears prudent to continue maintenance treatment for at least two additional years, although the real long-term risk of future relapses remains unknown. Establishing a multicenter patient registry and biorepository is essential to study the pathogenesis of the disease, further define the duration of disease, identify reliable biomarkers that aid early diagnosis and assess risk of relapse, and develop effective disease-specific therapies.

Grishchuk Y, Stember KG, Matsunaga A, Olivares AM, Cruz NM, King VE, Humphrey DM, Wang SL, Muzikansky A, Betensky RA, Thoreson WB, Haider N, Slaugenhaupt SA. Retinal Dystrophy and Optic Nerve Pathology in the Mouse Model of Mucolipidosis IV. Am J Pathol 2016;186(1):199-209.Abstract

Mucolipidosis IV is a debilitating developmental lysosomal storage disorder characterized by severe neuromotor retardation and progressive loss of vision, leading to blindness by the second decade of life. Mucolipidosis IV is caused by loss-of-function mutations in the MCOLN1 gene, which encodes the transient receptor potential channel protein mucolipin-1. Ophthalmic pathology in patients includes corneal haze and progressive retinal and optic nerve atrophy. Herein, we report ocular pathology in Mcoln1(-/-) mouse, a good phenotypic model of the disease. Early, but non-progressive, thinning of the photoreceptor layer, reduced levels of rhodopsin, disrupted rod outer segments, and widespread accumulation of the typical storage inclusion bodies were the major histological findings in the Mcoln1(-/-) retina. Electroretinograms showed significantly decreased functional response (scotopic a- and b-wave amplitudes) in the Mcoln1(-/-) mice. At the ultrastructural level, we observed formation of axonal spheroids and decreased density of axons in the optic nerve of the aged (6-month-old) Mcoln1(-/-) mice, which indicates progressive axonal degeneration. Our data suggest that mucolipin-1 plays a role in postnatal development of photoreceptors and provides a set of outcome measures that can be used for ocular therapy development for mucolipidosis IV.

Sparrow JR, Duncker T, Woods R, Delori FC. Quantitative Fundus Autofluorescence in Best Vitelliform Macular Dystrophy: RPE Lipofuscin is not Increased in Non-Lesion Areas of Retina. Adv Exp Med Biol 2016;854:285-90.Abstract

Since the lipofuscin of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Best vitelliform macular dystrophy, we quantified fundus autofluorescence (quantitative fundus autofluorescence, qAF) as an indirect measure of RPE lipofuscin levels. Mean non-lesion qAF was found to be within normal limits for age. By spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) vitelliform lesions presented as fluid-filled subretinal detachments containing reflective material. We discuss photoreceptor outer segment debris as the source of the intense fluorescence of these lesions and loss of anion channel functioning as an explanation for the bullous photoreceptor-RPE detachment. Unexplained is the propensity of the disease for central retina.

Kim C, Smith KE, Castillejos A, Diaz-Aguilar D, Saint-Geniez M, Connor KM. The alternative complement pathway aids in vascular regression during the early stages of a murine model of proliferative retinopathy. FASEB J 2016;30(3):1300-5.Abstract

Proliferative retinopathic diseases often progress in 2 phases: initial regression of retinal vasculature (phase 1) followed by subsequent neovascularization (NV) (phase 2). The immune system has been shown to aid in vascular pruning in such retinopathies; however, little is known about the role of the alternative complement pathway in the initial vascular regression phase. Using a mouse model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), we observed that alternative complement pathway-deficient mice (Fb(-/-)) exhibited a mild decrease in vascular loss at postnatal day (P)8 compared with age- and strain-matched controls (P = 0.035). Laser capture microdissection was used to isolate the retinal blood vessels. Expression of the complement inhibitors Cd55 and Cd59 was significantly decreased in blood vessels isolated from hyperoxic retinas compared with those from normoxic control mice. Vegf expression was measured at P8 and found to be significantly lower in OIR mice than in normoxic control mice (P = 0.0048). Further examination of specific Vegf isoform expression revealed a significant decrease in Vegf120 (P = 0.00032) and Vegf188 (P = 0.0092). In conjunction with the major modulating effects of Vegf during early retinal vascular development, our data suggest a modest involvement of the alternative complement pathway in targeting vessels for regression in the initial vaso-obliteration stage of OIR.-Kim, C., Smith, K. E., Castillejos, A., Diaz-Aguilar, D., Saint-Geniez, M., Connor, K. M. The alternative complement pathway aids in vascular regression during the early stages of a murine model of proliferative retinopathy.