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Am J Pathol. 2002 Mar;160(3):1097-103.

Inhibition of proliferative retinopathy by the anti-vascular agent combretastatin-A4.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Retinal neovascularization occurs in a variety of diseases including diabetic retinopathy, the most common cause of blindness in the developed world. There is accordingly considerable incentive to develop drugs that target the aberrant angiogenesis associated with these conditions. Previous studies have shown that a number of anti-angiogenic agents can inhibit retinal neovascularization in a well-characterized murine model of ischemia-induced proliferative retinopathy. Combretastatin-A4 (CA-4) is an anti-vascular tubulin-binding agent currently undergoing clinical evaluation for the treatment of solid tumors. We have recently shown that CA-4 is not tumor-specific but elicits anti-vascular effects in nonneoplastic angiogenic vessels. In this study we have examined the capacity of CA-4 to inhibit retinal neovascularization in vivo. CA-4 caused a dose-dependent inhibition of neovascularization with no apparent side effects. The absence of vascular abnormalities or remnants of disrupted neovessels in retinas of CA-4-treated mice suggests an anti-angiogenic mechanism in this model, in contrast to the anti-vascular effects observed against established tumor vessels. Importantly, histological and immunohistochemical analyses indicated that CA-4 permitted the development of normal retinal vasculature while inhibiting aberrant neovascularization. These data are consistent with CA-4 eliciting tissue-dependent anti-angiogenic effects and suggest that CA-4 has potential in the treatment of nonneoplastic diseases with an angiogenic component.

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