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Mol Vis. 2012;18:1045-54. Epub 2012 Apr 26.

In vivo imaging of choroidal angiogenesis using fluorescence-labeled cationic liposomes.

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University Eye Hospital, Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Killianstrasse 5, Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany



Precise monitoring of active angiogenesis in neovascular eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) enables sensitive use of antiangiogenic drugs and reduces adverse side effects. So far, no in vivo imaging methods are available to specifically label active angiogenesis. Here, we report such a technique using fluorophore-labeled cationic liposomes (CL) detected with a standard clinical in vivo scanning laser ophthalmoscope (SLO).


C57Bl/6 mice underwent laser coagulations at day 0 (d0) to induce choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Liposomes labeled with Oregon green, rhodamine (Rh), or indocyanine green (ICG) were injected into the tail vein at various time points after laser coagulation, and their fluorescence was observed in vivo 60 min later using an SLO, or afterwards in choroidal flatmounts or cryosections.


SLO detected accumulated fluorescence only in active CNV lesions with insignificant background noise. The best signal was obtained with CL-ICG. Choroidal flatmounts and cryosections of the eye confirmed the location of retained CL in CNV lesions. Neutral liposomes, in contrast, showed no accumulation.


These results establish fluorophore-labeled CL as high affinity markers to selectively stain active CNV. This novel, non-invasive SLO imaging technique could improve risk assessment and indication for current intraocular antiangiogenic drugs in neovascular eye diseases, as well as monitor therapeutic outcomes. Labeling of angiogenic vessels using CL can be of interest not only for functional imaging in ophthalmology but also for other conditions where localization of active angiogenesis is desirable.

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