Dual-Acting Antiangiogenic Gene Therapy Reduces Inflammation and Regresses Neovascularization in Diabetic Mouse Retina

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Intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs have become the gold standard treatment for diabetic retinopathy (DR). However, several patients are classified as non-responders or poor responders to treatment. Therefore, it is essential to study alternative target molecules. We have previously shown that the progression of DR in the Ins2Akita mouse reflects the imbalance between pro- and anti-angiogenic molecules found in the human retina. We report, for the first time, the therapeutic potential of a dual-acting antiangiogenic non-viral gene therapy. We have used an expressing vector encoding both the pigment epithelium-derived factor gene and a short hairpin RNA (shRNA) targeted to the placental growth factor to restore the balance between these factors in the retina. Twenty-one days after a single subretinal injection, we observed a marked decrease in the inflammatory response in the neural retina and in the retinal pigment epithelium, together with reduced vascular retinal permeability in the treated diabetic mouse. These results were accompanied by the restoration of the retinal capillary network and regression of neovascularization, with significant improvement of DR hallmarks. Concomitant with the favorable therapeutic effects, this approach did not affect retinal ganglion cells. Hence our results provide evidence toward the use of this approach in DR treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-339
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2020


  • diabetic retinopathy
  • gene therapy
  • neovascularization
  • pigment epithelium-derived factor
  • placental growth factor
  • retina
  • retinal pigment epithelium
  • subretinal delivery
  • vascular plexus


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