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J Immunol. 2012 Apr 1;188(7):3434-46. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1102602. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

IL-17A differentially regulates corneal vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A and soluble VEGF receptor 1 expression and promotes corneal angiogenesis after herpes simplex virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0854, USA.


Ocular infection with HSV causes corneal neovascularization (CV), an essential step in the pathogenesis of the blinding immunoinflammatory lesion stromal keratitis. The infection results in IL-17A production, which contributes to CV in ways that together serve to shift the balance between corneal concentrations of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and the soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 molecule, which binds to VEGF-A and blocks its function (a so-called VEGF trap). Accordingly, animals lacking responses to IL-17A signaling, either because of IL-17 receptor A knockout or wild-type animals that received neutralizing mAb to IL-17A, had diminished CV, compared with controls. The procedures reduced VEGF-A protein levels but had no effect on the levels of soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1. Hence the VEGF trap was strengthened. IL-17A also caused increased CXCL1/KC synthesis, which attracts neutrophils to the inflammatory site. Neutrophils further influenced the extent of CV by acting as an additional source of VEGF-A, as did metalloproteinase enzymes that degrade the soluble receptor, inhibiting its VEGF-blocking activity. Our results indicate that suppressing the expression of IL-17A, or increasing the activity of the VEGF trap, represents a useful approach to inhibiting CV and the control of an ocular lesion that is an important cause of human blindness.

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