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J Ophthalmic Vis Res. 2012 Jan;7(1):39-44.

Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha for retinal diseases: current knowledge and future concepts.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, University Medical Center, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.


Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) is a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced by macrophages and T-cells. It plays an important role both in inflammation and apoptosis. In the eye, TNF-α appears to have a role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory, edematous, neovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. Several TNF-blocking drugs have been developed and approved, and are in clinical use for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and ankylosing spondylitis. TNF-α blockers are widely used in ophthalmology as an off-label alternative to "traditional" immunosuppressive and immune-modulatory treatments in noninfectious uveitis. Preliminary studies suggest a positive effect of intravenously administered TNF-α blockers, mainly infliximab, for treating refractory diabetic macular edema and neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Unfortunately, much of the current data raises considerable safety concerns for intravitreal use of TNF-α inhibitors, in particular, intraocular inflammatory responses have been reported after intravitreal injection of infliximab. Results of dose-finding studies and humanized antibody or antibody fragments (e.g. adalimumab) are anticipated in the coming years; these will shed light on potential benefits and risks of local and systemic TNF-α blockers used for treatment of diseases of the retina and choroid.


Age-Related Macular Degeneration; Diabetic Macular Edema; TNF-α; Tumor Necrosis Factor; Uveitis, Retinal Vein Occlusion

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