We sought to characterize the angiofibrotic and apoptotic effects of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-inhibition on fibrovascular epiretinal membranes in eyes with traction retinal detachment because of proliferative diabetic retinopathy.Methods:
Membranes were excised from 20 eyes of 19 patients (10 randomized to intravitreal bevacizumab, 10 controls) at vitrectomy. Membranes were stained with antibodies targeting connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) or VEGF and colabeled with antibodies directed against endothelial cells (CD31), myofibroblasts, or retinal pigment epithelium markers. Quantitative and colocalization analyses of antibody labeling were obtained through immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. Masson trichrome staining, cell counting of hematoxylin and eosin sections, and terminal dUTP nick-end labeling staining were performed.Results:
High levels of fibrosis were observed in both groups. Cell apoptosis was higher (P = 0.05) in bevacizumab-treated membranes compared with controls. The bevacizumab group had a nonsignificant reduction in colocalization in CD31–CTGF and cytokeratin–VEGF studies compared with controls. Vascular endothelial growth factor in extracted membranes was positively correlated with vitreous levels of VEGF; CTGF in extracted membranes was negatively correlated with vitreous levels of CTGF.Conclusion:
Bevacizumab suppresses vitreous VEGF levels, but does not significantly alter VEGF or CTGF in diabetic membranes that may be explained by high baseline levels of fibrosis. Bevacizumab may cause apoptosis within fibrovascular membranes.