Plasma levels of vascular endothelial growth factor before and after intravitreal injection of bevacizumab, ranibizumab and pegaptanib in patients with age-related macular degeneration, and in patients with diabetic macular oedema

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To determine the level of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in the plasma of patients with diabetic macular edema (DME) and of patients with exudative age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) before and after intravitreal injection of bevacizumab, ranibizumab or pegaptanib.


30 patients with DME and 30 patients with ARMD were included in this randomized controlled study. Patients were randomized to treatment with ranibizumab (0.5 mg), bevacizumab (1.25 mg) or pegaptanib (0.3 mg). 10 patients with DME received bevacizumab, 10 ranibizumab and 10 pegaptanib. The same randomized treatment allocation applied to the 30 patients with ARMD. The concentrations of VEGF were measured by ELISA just before the injection, after 7 days and 1 month.


Plasma VEGF in patients with exudative ARMD before the injection of bevacizumab was 89.7 pg/ml. It was significantly reduced to 25.1 pg/ml after 7 days (p=0.01), and to 22.8 pg/ml after 1 month (p=0.008). In patients with DME the same systemic reduction by bevacizumab was observed with a significant decrease of baseline VEGF level from 72.2 pg/ml to 13.7 pg/ml after 7 days (p=0.008) and 17.1 pg/ml at 4 weeks with (p=0.012). No significant reductions of plasma VEGF levels were observed in patients receiving ranibizumab or pegaptanib during follow-up.


Bevacizumab significantly reduces the level of VEGF in the blood plasma for up to one month in patients with DME as well as in those with ARMD. No significant systemic effects of intravitreal ranibizumab or pegaptanib on plasma VEGF could be observed.

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