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J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;29(8):754-9. doi: 10.1089/jop.2012.0129. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Retinal toxicity of intravitreal trastuzumab in a rabbit model: preliminary results of an experimental study.

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1 Laboratory of Electrophysiology, 1st Department of Ophthalmology, University of Athens , Athens, Greece .



To evaluate the retinal toxicity of intravitreal trastuzumab in a rabbit model.


Fourteen New Zealand albino rabbits, weighing between 2.5 and 3 kg were used for this study. In the first group (n=6), 0.1 mL trastuzumab 10 mg/mL was injected into the vitreous. In the second group (n=6), the same volume of sterile balanced saline solution was injected intravitreally (sham injection). Additionally, 0.1 mL of 2 other concentrations of trastuzumab (7.5 and 5 mg/mL, respectively), was injected into the vitreous of 2 rabbits. Slit-lamp and funduscopic examinations were performed and the animals were observed for 2 weeks for signs of inflammation, infection, and toxicity. An electroretinogram (ERG) was performed at baseline and 14 days after the injection. The animals were killed on day 14 and a histological examination was performed in the enucleated eyes.


The clinical examination was unremarkable on either sham or intravitreal injection of trastuzumab. Conversely, the ERG was greatly affected and in 2 cases extinguished 14 days after trastuzumab injection. Consistent with electrophysiological abnormalities of the retina, signs of retinal edema in experimented eyes, suggesting morphologic retinal damage, were observed. In contrast, in the sham injected eyes, the ERG was normal without histopathologic retinal changes.


Intravitreal trastuzumab seems to be toxic to the retina in albino rabbits even at a concentration of 5 mg/mL. Further studies are needed to evaluate the safety of intravitreal trastuzumab in models of choroidal neovascularization, as well as to obtain experience concerning the intravitreal toxicity of trastuzumab in primates too and not only in rabbits.

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