Topical delivery of a small molecule RUNX1 transcription factor inhibitor for the treatment of proliferative vitreoretinopathy

Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 30;10(1):20554. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-77254-0.


Proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR) is the leading cause of retinal detachment surgery failure. Despite significant advances in vitreoretinal surgery, it still remains without an effective prophylactic or therapeutic medical treatment. After ocular injury or retinal detachment, misplaced retinal cells undergo epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) to form contractile membranes within the eye. We identified Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) as a gene highly expressed in surgically-removed human PVR specimens. RUNX1 upregulation was a hallmark of EMT in primary cultures derived from human PVR membranes (C-PVR). The inhibition of RUNX1 reduced proliferation of human C-PVR cells in vitro, and curbed growth of freshly isolated human PVR membranes in an explant assay. We formulated Ro5-3335, a lipophilic small molecule RUNX1 inhibitor, into a nanoemulsion that when administered topically curbed the progression of disease in a novel rabbit model of mild PVR developed using C-PVR cells. Mass spectrometry analysis detected 2.67 ng/mL of Ro5-3335 within the vitreous cavity after treatment. This work shows a critical role for RUNX1 in PVR and supports the feasibility of targeting RUNX1 within the eye for the treatment of an EMT-mediated condition using a topical ophthalmic agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / biosynthesis
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Emulsions
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Rabbits
  • Vitreoretinopathy, Proliferative* / drug therapy
  • Vitreoretinopathy, Proliferative* / metabolism
  • Vitreoretinopathy, Proliferative* / pathology


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • Emulsions
  • RUNX1 protein, human