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Gene Ther. 2002 Mar;9(5):320-6.

Inhibition of retinal neovascularisation by gene transfer of soluble VEGF receptor sFlt-1.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Institute of Ophthalmology, University College London, London, UK.


Retinal angiogenesis is a central feature of the leading causes of blindness. Current treatments for these conditions are of limited efficacy and cause significant adverse effects. In this study, we evaluated the angiostatic effect of gene transfer of the soluble VEGF receptor sFlt-1 in a mouse model of ischaemia-induced retinal neovascularisation using adenovirus and adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors. We induced proliferative retinopathy in mice by exposure to 75% oxygen from postnatal day 7 (p7) to p12 and injected intravitreally recombinant viral vectors expressing the reporter green fluorescent protein (GFP) or vectors expressing the VEGF inhibitor sFlt-1. Efficient adenovirus-mediated GFP expression was evident in cells of the corneal endothelium and iris pigment epithelium. AAV-mediated GFP expression was evident in ganglion cells and cells of the inner nuclear layer of the retina. Vector-mediated sFlt-1 expression was confirmed by ELISA of pooled homogenised whole eyes. Injection of either vector expressing sFlt-1 resulted in a reduction in the number of neovascular endothelial cells by 56% and 52% for adenovirus and AAV vectors, respectively (P < 0.05). Local gene transfer of sFlt-1 consistently inhibits experimental retinal neovascularisation by approximately 50% and offers a powerful novel approach to the clinical management of retinal neovascular disorders.

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