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Glia. 2008 Aug 1;56(10):1076-90. doi: 10.1002/glia.20680.

AT1 receptor inhibition prevents astrocyte degeneration and restores vascular growth in oxygen-induced retinopathy.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


We investigated the effect of receptor blockade induced by an angiotensin II type-1 receptor antagonist (AT(1)-RB) on glial and vascular changes in oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), a model of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). OIR was induced in Sprague-Dawley rats by exposure to 80% oxygen from postnatal (P) days 0-11, followed by 7 days in room air. Control animals were in room air for the entire duration. One cohort of OIR and control pups received the AT(1)-RB valsartan (40 mg/kg/day intraperitoneal) from P11 to P18. The vascular response was examined immunocytochemically using retinal wholemounts and vertical sections labeled with endothelial (Isolectin-B4) and pericyte (NG2, desmin) markers. Glial cell changes were assessed by measuring cell numbers and immunoreactivity (S100beta, connexin-26, and glial fibrillary acidic protein). OIR resulted in extensive intravitreal neovascularization and under-development of the outer vascular plexus. Pericyte numbers were not significantly affected in OIR, although pericyte-endothelial (desmin-IB4) interactions were impaired. Peripheral astrocyte degeneration occurred between P11 and P13 with prominent Müller cell reactivity at P18. Valsartan imparted a protective effect on glia and blood vessels in OIR. At P18, valsartan-treated OIR retinae showed significantly greater astrocyte survival, improved revascularization of the retina, and reduced preretinal neovascularization and Müller cell reactivity. This study identifies a glio-vascular protective effect with AT(1)-RB in OIR.

(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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