Neovascular retinal diseases are the leading causes of blindness in advanced countries. To date, anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs are clinically effective and widely used for these diseases. However, recent animal and clinical studies reported that potent and long-term VEGF antagonism may induce chorioretinal atrophy. Thus, physiological amount of VEGF is required for the homeostasis in the retina. Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are transcription factors located upstream of VEGF. We hypothesized that ectopically stabilized HIFs induce pathological amount of VEGF involved with retinal neovascularization. Therefore, HIF inhibition could be an alternative therapeutic candidate targeting the pathological amount of VEGF while holding a physiological amount of VEGF. To test this hypothesis, topotecan and doxorubicin, HIF inhibitors with different mechanisms were administered to the murine oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model. We found that both topotecan and doxorubicin significantly prevented pathological but not physiological neovascularization in OIR. Furthermore, impaired visual function observed in OIR can also be suppressed by administering topotecan. These data suggested that HIF inhibition may be effective for pathological angiogenesis and neurodegeneration of the retina.
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