Purpose: Specific proteolytic cleavages of the hormone prolactin (PRL) generate vasoinhibins, a family of peptides (including 16-kDa PRL) that are able to inhibit the pathologic increase in retinal vasopermeability (RVP) associated with diabetes. Here the authors tested the ability of an adenoassociated virus type 2 (AAV2) vasoinhibin vector to inhibit vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)- and diabetes-induced RVP.
Methods: AAV2 vectors encoding vasoinhibin, PRL, or soluble VEGF receptor 1 (soluble FMS-like tyrosine kinase-1 [sFlt-1]) were injected intravitreally into the eyes of rats. Four weeks later, either VEGF was injected intravitreally or diabetes was induced with streptozotocin. Tracer accumulation was evaluated as an index of RVP using fluorescein angiography or the Evans blue dye method. RT-PCR verified transgene expression in the retina, and the intravitreal injection of an AAV2 vector encoding green fluorescent protein revealed transduced cells in the retinal ganglion cell layer. In addition, Western blot analysis of AAV2-transduced HEK293 cells confirmed the expression and secretion of the vector-encoded proteins.
Results: The AAV2-vasoinhibin vector prevented the increase in tracer accumulation that occurs 24 hours after the intravitreal injection of VEGF. Diabetes induced a significant increase in tracer accumulation compared with nondiabetic controls. This increase was blocked by the AAV2-vasoinhibin vector and reduced by the AAV2-sFlt-1 vector. The AAV2-PRL vector had no effect.
Conclusions: These results show that an AAV2-vasoinhibin vector prevents pathologic RVP and suggest it could have therapeutic value in patients with diabetic retinopathy.