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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Aug;51(8):3874-83. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-5003. Epub 2010 Mar 24.

Differential role of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha receptors in the development of choroidal neovascularization.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Heinrich-Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany.



Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF)-alpha contributes to inflammation-associated angiogenesis. This study investigates the role of TNF-alpha receptors 1a and 1b in the development of choroidal neovascularization (CNV).


CNV was induced in Tnfrsf1a(-/-) and Tnfrsf1b(-/-) mice with C57Bl6/J background and their wild-type (WT) (C57Bl/6J) controls by laser damage to the Bruch's membrane. TNF-alpha expression in RPE/choroid was determined by Western blot analysis. Pathologic angiogenesis was estimated qualitatively and quantitatively by fluorescein angiography and histology on choroidal flat mounts and paraffin cross-sections. Inflammatory cell invasion was investigated by clodronic acid depletion of circulating macrophages and immunochemistry, and the apoptotic activity was investigated by TUNEL assay and by caspase-3 and caspase-8 expression. Receptor 1b-specific Bmx/Etk kinase was detected by immunochemistry.


TNF-alpha levels were elevated after laser treatment. Severe CNV lesions and increased macrophage invasion were observed in Tnfrsf1a(-/-) compared with WT and Tnfrsf1b(-/-) mice. Increased immunoreactivity for Bmx/Etk kinase corresponded to the severity of CNV formation. Reduced pathologic angiogenesis and macrophage invasion in Tnfrsf1b(-/-) mice (vs. WT and Tnfrsf1a(-/-)) was accompanied by enhanced endothelial cell apoptosis and by caspase-3 and caspase-8 activation.


Receptor 1b promotes the recruitment of inflammatory cells to the site of injury and exacerbated pathologic angiogenesis probably by way of the Bmx/Etk-kinase-dependent pathway in the absence of receptor 1a. On the other hand, receptor 1a-dependent apoptosis in the absence of receptor 1b leads to reduced inflammatory response and CNV lesions after laser treatment. This demonstrates the potential for specific targeting of TNF-alpha receptors for future therapies of inflammation-associated choroidal neovascularization.

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