Purpose: To study the effects of intravitreous triamcinolone acetonide (TA) on neovascularization (NV), capillary density, and retinal endothelial cell (REC) viability in a model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR).
Methods: Newborn rats exposed to OIR underwent intravitreous injections (right eye) at day 14 to achieve intravitreous concentrations of: dexamethasone (DEX) (0.3 mg/mL), triamcinolone (TA; 0.4-4 mg/mL), or PBS. Animals were removed to room air and at day 18, retinal flatmounts were assayed for clock hours of NV, percent peripheral avascular retina, capillary density, apoptosis, and VEGF protein. At day 15, retinas were assayed for insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 receptor phosphorylation (IGF-1Rphos). Human RECs exposed to TA were assayed for trypan blue exclusion or activated caspase-3.
Results: TA but not DEX or PBS reduced NV (ANOVA, P < 0.001), capillary density (ANOVA, P < 0.001), and systemic weight gain (ANOVA, P = 0.002). VEGF protein was not different between TA- and PBS-injected or noninjected groups. Apoptosis was not increased in vivo or in vitro between groups, but there was a dose-dependent toxic effect of TA on cultured RECs (P < 0.001). At day 15, retinas from the 4 mg/mL TA-injected OIR group had a trend toward reduced IGF-1Rphos compared with room air-raised PBS- or non-injected OIR groups.
Conclusions: TA caused dose-dependent reductions in NV, retinal vascularization, and systemic weight gain associated with a reduction in IGF-1Rphos. Long-term studies are needed to assess TA toxicity in vivo. TA doses should be carefully considered before administering the drug in diseases with ongoing retinal vascular development, such as retinopathy of prematurity.