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Elife. 2013 Jun 18;2:e00324. doi: 10.7554/eLife.00324.

Photoreceptor avascular privilege is shielded by soluble VEGF receptor-1.

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  • 1Moran Eye Center , University of Utah , Salt Lake City , United States ; Department of Ophthalmology , The 306th Hospital of PLA , Beijing , China.


Optimal phototransduction requires separation of the avascular photoreceptor layer from the adjacent vascularized inner retina and choroid. Breakdown of peri-photoreceptor vascular demarcation leads to retinal angiomatous proliferation or choroidal neovascularization, two variants of vascular invasion of the photoreceptor layer in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of irreversible blindness in industrialized nations. Here we show that sFLT-1, an endogenous inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), is synthesized by photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), and is decreased in human AMD. Suppression of sFLT-1 by antibodies, adeno-associated virus-mediated RNA interference, or Cre/lox-mediated gene ablation either in the photoreceptor layer or RPE frees VEGF-A and abolishes photoreceptor avascularity. These findings help explain the vascular zoning of the retina, which is critical for vision, and advance two transgenic murine models of AMD with spontaneous vascular invasion early in life. DOI:


Human; Mouse; age-related macular degeneration; photoreceptor metabolism; retinal vasculature; soluble VEGF receptor-1; transgenic model; vascular demarcation

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