Increased expression of angiogenic growth factors in age-related maculopathy

Br J Ophthalmol. 1997 Feb;81(2):154-62. doi: 10.1136/bjo.81.2.154.


Aims/background: The late stages of age-related maculopathy (ARM), especially neovascular macular degeneration (ARMD), can severely affect central vision and are the main cause of blindness in the elderly in the Western world. It has been shown that angiogenic growth factors are present in neovascular membranes in ARMD. However, it is not known if angiogenic growth factors play a role in the onset of neovascularisation.

Methods: In order to elucidate the involvement of angiogenic growth factors in the initiation of neovascularisation in early stages of ARM, the expression patterns of VEGF, TGF-beta, b-FGF, and PDGF-AA on 18 human maculae with ARM, and on 11 control specimens were investigated immunohistochemically.

Results: A significantly increased expression of VEGF (p = 0.00001) and TGF-beta (p = 0.019) was found in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) of maculae with ARM compared with control maculae. Furthermore, an increased expression of VEGF and PDGF was found in the outer nuclear layer of maculae with ARM.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate an increased expression of VEGF in the RPE, and in the outer nuclear layer in maculae with ARM, that could be involved in the pathogenesis of neovascular macular degeneration. Furthermore, enhanced TGF-beta expression in the RPE cells of maculae with early stages of ARM was shown.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Endothelial Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / metabolism
  • Growth Substances / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Lymphokines / metabolism
  • Macula Lutea / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / blood supply
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors


  • Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Growth Substances
  • Lymphokines
  • Platelet-Derived Growth Factor
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factors
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2