The development of symptoms in patients with epiretinal membranes (ERMs) often corresponds with the accumulation of interstitial fluid in the retina [i.e., the development of macular edema, (ME)]. To explore the potential value of pharmacologic therapeutic options to treat ME in patients with ERMs, we examine here the expression of vasoactive and inflammatory mediators in the vitreous of patients with idiopathic ERMs. We observed that vitreous concentrations of classic vasoactive factors (e.g., vascular endothelial growth factor) were similar in ERM patients with ME compared to controls. Using an array assessing the expression of 102 inflammatory cytokines we similarly did not observe a marked difference in cytokine expression in the vitreous of most ERM patients with ME compared to control patients. While the array data did implicate a group of inflammatory cytokines that were elevated in a subset of ERM patients who had severe ME (central subfield thickness ≥450 μm on spectral domain optical coherence tomography), expression of 3 of these inflammatory cytokines, all previously implicated in the promotion of ME in ischemic retinal disease, were not elevated by quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We conclude that therapies modulating vasoactive mediators or inflammatory cytokines may not affect ME in ERM patients.
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