Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) was induced in Lewis rats and B10.A mice by immunization with S-antigen (S-Ag) to study the potential roles of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and the β1 and β2 isoforms of transforming growth factor (TGF(β1) and TGF(β2)) during the progression of the disease. VEGF has been implicated as an angiogenic factor in ischemic retinopathies; however, Lewis rats developing EAU have high levels of VEGF in the retina, but no neovascularization. In the present study, immunohistochemical staining for VEGF, TGF(β1) and TGF(β2) was performed on the retinas of Lewis rats developing EAU or with oxygen-induced ischemic retinopathy. In rats immunized with S-antigen, a marked upregulation of VEGF was immunohistochemically visualized from the inner nuclear layer to the inner limiting membrane prior to blood-retinal barrier (BRB) failure and lymphocytic infiltration. VEGF is normally induced by hypoxia and its induction leads to neovascularization. Coincident with the increase in VEGF, there was increased immunoreactivity for TGF(β1) and TGF(β2) within the same layers of the retina. In contrast, rats with ischemic retinopathy and retinal neovascularization showed only a modest increase in VEGF immunoreactivity, which is largely confined to retinal ganglion cells and inner retinal vessels, and little or no increase in TGF(β1) or TGF(β2). In addition, in mice developing EAU, which does not have an abrupt onset as it does in rats and may involve neovascularization, a comparable upregulation of VEGF in the inner retina to that seen in rats developing EAU occurs with no increase in TGF(β1) or TGF(β2). Since TGF(β) can inhibit endothelial cell proliferation, it is likely that an increase in TGF(β) may prevent VEGF from exerting its endothelial growth activity in the rat EAU model, but VEGF may be operative in inducing BRB failure. These data suggest that there is a complex interaction among growth factors in the retina and that retinal neovascularization may require an imbalance between stimulatory and inhibitory factors.
- Blood-retinal barrier
- Experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis
- Transforming growth factor beta
- Vascular endothelial growth factor
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Allergy
- Clinical Neurology