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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2016 Nov 1;57(14):6320-6326. doi: 10.1167/iovs.16-20657.

Vitreal Cytokine Profile Differences Between Eyes With Epiretinal Membranes or Macular Holes.

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Swiss Eye Institute and Clinic for Vitreoretinal Diseases, Berner Augenklinik am Lindenhofspital, Bern, Switzerland.
Department of Ophthalmology, Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland 3University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
Swiss Eye Institute and Clinic for Vitreoretinal Diseases, Berner Augenklinik am Lindenhofspital, Bern, Switzerland 3University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.
University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland 4Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.



Cytokines play an important role in cell signaling in inflammatory and repair processes, also within the posterior segment of the eye. These molecules are thus implicated in the pathophysiology of several vitreoretinal diseases. In the present study, we compared vitreal cytokine profiles in patients with idiopathic epiretinal membranes (ERMs) and idiopathic full-thickness macular holes (MHs) without epiretinal membranes.


Native vitreal humor was collected during elective pars plana vitrectomy for the treatment of macular pathologies (group 1: ERM; group 2: MH) from patients without any other ocular or systemic disease. The concentrations of 43 chemokines and cytokines were measured in parallel by multiplex beads analysis. Intergroup comparisons were conducted using the Mann-Whitney U test and Bonferroni's correction, at a level of significance of P < 0.0012.


Vitreal samples from 31 patients with ERMs (group 1) and from 30 with MHs (group 2) were analyzed. For 12 of the tested cytokines (GM-CSF, MCP-1, MIF, CCL15, CCL20, CCL17, CX3CL1, CXCL10, CXCL16, and TGF-β-1, -2, and -3), no intergroup differences were revealed; for the other 31, the concentrations were higher in the ERM than in the MH group (P < 0.0012 in each case).


The vitreal levels of 72% of the tested cytokines were higher in ERM than in MH. This indicates that even in the absence of clinical markers, activation of inflammatory and profibrotic mechanisms is implicated in the progression of ERMs. Although frequently used as such in the past, eyes with ERMs should be considered with caution as a healthy control group.

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