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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Jan;48(1):430-7.

Neurotrophic factors minimize the retinal toxicity of verteporfin photodynamic therapy.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.



A prior study showed that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) rescues photoreceptors from collateral retinal damage caused by photodynamic therapy (PDT). This study was conducted to determine whether ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF), a combination of BDNF and CNTF, or pigment epithelial cell-derived growth factor (PEDF) might protect photoreceptors and retinal function more effectively than BDNF. Also investigated was whether protection would be observed after a second round of PDT with adjunctive BDNF treatment.


Normal rats received intravitreal injections of BDNF, CNTF, a combination of BDNF and CNTF, or PEDF in one eye and PBS in the other 2 days before PDT. Retinal function and photoreceptor survival were assessed with multifocal ERG (mfERG) and histology 1 week after PDT. Another group of rats received two courses of PDT 3 months apart, with injection of BDNF 2 days before each treatment.


All factors significantly increased photoreceptor survival. The combination of BDNF and CNTF rescued more photoreceptors than either factor alone. Only BDNF improved retinal function 1 week after PDT, with CNTF and the combination of BDNF and CNTF reducing mfERG responses. BDNF injection before a second round of PDT improved mfERG responses and retinal structure.


BDNF is the most effective single factor among those tested for neuroprotection and improvement of retinal function after PDT, although a combination of BDNF and CNTF rescues more photoreceptors. Adjunctive treatment with BDNF also protects retinal structure and function through two rounds of PDT, suggesting its potential value for patients who require multiple treatments.

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