Expression pattern of HIF-1α and VEGF supports circumferential application of scatter laser for proliferative sickle retinopathy

Murilo Rodrigues, Fabiana Kashiwabuchi, Monika Deshpande, Kathleen Jee, Morton F. Goldberg, Gerard Lutty, Gregg L. Semenza, Silvia Montaner, Akrit Sodhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE. Retinal vascular occlusions in sickle cell anemia patients cause tissue ischemia and the release of angiogenic mediators that promote the development of retinal neovascularization, initiating proliferative sickle retinopathy (PSR). Laser photocoagulation (LPC) has emerged as the most common treatment for PSR. Nonetheless, only two randomized controlled clinical trials have evaluated the use of LPC for PSR, and both failed to definitively demonstrate efficacy of this approach. This may be due to a lack of knowledge regarding the appropriate location for placement of laser coagulations in PSR eyes. To help address this question, we examined the expression of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in PSR eyes. METHODS. The expression pattern of HIF-1α and VEGF in PSR (n = 5) and control (n = 3) eyes was examined by immunohistochemistry in different retinal regions defined by the presence or absence of retinal vessels. RESULTS. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1α and VEGF were expressed in the inner retina of 5/5 untreated PSR eyes adjacent to retinal neovascularization; expression of HIF-1α was not detected (and VEGF only lightly detected) in normal retinal and choroidal vasculature of 3/3 control eyes. Hypoxia-inducible factor 1a and VEGF were strongly expressed in retinal cells within avascular (nonperfused) retina, anterior to the boundary between perfused and nonperfused retina, as well as in posterior ischemic retina in the presence or absence of neovascular sea fans. CONCLUSIONS. If the goal of LPC in PSR is to quench the expression of HIF-1-driven angiogenic mediators, our results support broad application of peripheral laser for its treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6739-6746
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number15
StatePublished - Dec 2016


  • Hypoxia-inducible factor
  • Neovascularization
  • Sickle cell retinopathy
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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