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August 1996

Localization of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Human Retina and Choroid

Author Affiliations

From the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md (Dr Lutty, Mr McLeod, and Mss Merges and Diggs); and the Institut de Biologie Cellulaire et Genetique, Toulouse, France (Dr Plouét). The authors have no proprietary interest in the products described in this article.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(8):971-977. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140179011

Objective:  To examine the distribution and relative levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the nondiabetic and preproliferative diabetic human retina and choroid.

Methods:  Immunohistochemical localization was performed on frozen sections from cryopreserved postmortem human tissue using a polyclonal antibody against VEGF and a streptavidin peroxidase system. Eyes from 5 subjects without diabetes and 8 subjects with diabetes were examined and analyzed using a 7-point immunohistochemical grading system.

Results:  In subjects without diabetes, weak or no VEGF immunoreactivity was associated with retinal blood vessels. In subjects with diabetes, we found significantly increased immunoreactivity in the retinal vascular endothelium and blood vessel walls. Vascular endothelial growth factor immunoreactivity was also associated with intravascular leukocytes in subjects with and without diabetes. In the choroid of subjects without diabetes, immunoreactivity was almost exclusively associated with intravascular leukocytes, whereas in diabetic subjects, immunoreactivity was localized within choriocapillaris endothelium, choroidal neovascular endothelium, and migrating retinal pigment epithelium cells.

Conclusions:  The observed increase in VEGF immunoreactivity in the diabetic retina and choroid suggests that VEGF may contribute to 2 well-documented events during retinopathy: increased vascular permeability and angiogenesis.

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