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Arq Bras Oftalmol. 2007 May-Jun;70(3):547-53.

[Angiogenesis and retinal diseases].

[Article in Portuguese]

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  • 1Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil.


Angiogenesis is the process involving the growth of new blood vessels from preexisting vessels which occurs in both physiologic and pathological settings. It is a complex process controlled by a large number of modulating factors, the pro-and antiangiogenic factors. The underlying cause of vision loss in proliferative retinal diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and proliferative diabetic retinopathy, are increased vascular permeability and choroidal neovascularization, and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a central role in this process. VEGF is produced in the eye by retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells and is upregulated by hypoxia. There are four major biologically active human isoforms, of which VEGF165 is the predominant in the human eye and appears to be the responsible for pathological ocular neovascularization. Besides being a potent and specific mitogen for endothelial cells, VEGF increases vascular permeability, inhibits endothelial cells apoptosis, and is a chemoattractant for endothelial cell precursors. VEGF is not the only growth factor involved in ocular neovascularization. Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), angiopoietins, pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), and adhesion molecules also play a role in the pro- and antiangiogenic balance. Advances in the understanding of the bases of pathological ocular angiogenesis and identification of angiogenesis regulators have enabled the development of novel therapeutic agents. Anti-VEGF antibodies have been developed for intravitreal use, and other approaches are currently under investigation. These new drugs may be powerful tools for the treatment of the leading causes of irreversible blindness in people over age 65.

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