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Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2010 Dec;108:96-119.

Studies on the pathogenesis of avascular retina and neovascularization into the vitreous in peripheral severe retinopathy of prematurity (an american ophthalmological society thesis).

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Moran Eye Center, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA.



To study vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) regulation in the development of intravitreous neovascularization and peripheral avascular retina in peripheral severe retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).


The rat 50/10 model of ROP mimics zone II, stage 3 severe ROP and recreates fluctuations in transcutaneous oxygen levels in preterm infants. On postnatal (p) day ages p0, p8, p11-p14, and p18, retinas from the model or room-air (RA) age-matched pups were analyzed for mRNA of VEGF splice variants and receptors using real-time polymerase chain reaction or VEGF protein using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


On p14, when retinas were only 70% vascularized in the model but fully vascularized in RA, VEGF₁₆₄ expression was threefold greater in the model compared to RA. On p18, intravitreous neovascularization was associated with a 5-fold increase in VEGF₁₆₄ mRNA in the model compared to RA. By analysis of variance, VEGF₁₆₄ and VEGFR2 mRNAs were up-regulated in association with increasing developmental age (P<.0001 for both comparisons) or exposure to the model compared to RA (P<.0001 and P=.0247, respectively), whereas increasing developmental age was associated only with up-regulated VEGF₁₂₀ (P=.0006), VEGF₁₈₈ (P=.0256), and VEGFR1 (P<.0001) mRNAs. VEGF protein increased significantly in the model and on p14 and p18 compared to RA (P<.0001).


The model mimics contemporary severe ROP in the United States unlike other models of oxygen-induced retinopathy. Compared to RA retinas, VEGF significantly increased in association with avascular retina and intravitreous neovascularization. A hypothesis is proposed that VEGF up-regulation plays a role in the development of both important features.

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