Safety profiles of anti-VEGF drugs: bevacizumab, ranibizumab, aflibercept and ziv-aflibercept on human retinal pigment epithelium cells in culture

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Abstract

Purpose

To compare the safety profiles of antivascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs ranibizumab, bevacizumab, aflibercept and ziv-aflibercept on retinal pigment epithelium cells in culture.

Methods

Human retinal pigment epithelium cells (ARPE-19) were exposed for 24 h to four anti-VEGF drugs at 1/2×, 1×, 2× and 10× clinical concentrations. Cell viability and mitochondrial membrane potential assay were performed to evaluate early apoptotic changes and rate of overall cell death.

Results

Cell viability decreased at 10× concentrations in bevacizumab (82.38%, p=0.0001), aflibercept (82.68%, p=0.0002) and ziv-aflibercept (77.25%, p<0.0001), but not at lower concentrations. However, no changes were seen in cell viability in ranibizumab-treated cells at all concentrations including 10×. Mitochondrial membrane potential was slightly decreased in 10× ranibizumab-treated cells (89.61%, p=0.0006) and 2× and 10× aflibercept-treated cells (88.76%, 81.46%; p<0.01, respectively). A larger reduction in mitochondrial membrane potential was seen at 1×, 2× and 10× concentrations of bevacizumab (86.53%, 74.38%, 66.67%; p<0.01) and ziv-aflibercept (73.50%, 64.83% and 49.65% p<0.01) suggestive of early apoptosis at lower doses, including the clinical doses.

Conclusions

At clinical doses, neither ranibizumab nor aflibercept produced evidence of mitochondrial toxicity or cell death. However, bevacizumab and ziv-aflibercept showed mild mitochondrial toxicity at clinically relevant doses.

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