Objective: To evaluate the role of angiogenesis in the pathogenesis of pterygium by comparing the expression of von-Willebrand factor (vWF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in pterygium, and in normal superior bulbar conjunctiva.
Methods: 23 human samples from pterygium and the superior bulbar conjunctiva were stained using rabbit anti-vWF and anti-VEGF antibodies. The density of vWF and VEGF positive vessels, VEGF staining intensity and the number of VEGF positive stromal, epithelial and vascular endothelial cells were evaluated.
Results: Pterygium specimens had higher average vWF and VEGF positive microvascular counts per high power field (P = 0.0012), higher average VEGF staining intensity scores in epithelial, stromal and endothelial cells (p < 0.0001) and higher VEGF positive cell counts (P < 0.0001) than normal conjuctiva.
Conclusions: Over-expression of VEGF in pterygium tissue, together with the abundance of vWF-stained new vessels, may support previous suggestions that angiogenesis may play a role in the formation of pterygium.