The vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a key role in the development of proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and diabetic macular edema (DME), resulting in a significant visual loss among patients with diabetes mellitus. Systemic VEGF-A and the interplay between membrane-bound VEGF receptors and VEGF-R1 (soluble form) are key to angiogenesis and vasculogenesis. Furthermore, patients with diabetes have a higher risk of hypertension and proteinuria, two surrogate markers of systemic VEGF inhibition. Pegaptanib, ranibizumab, bevacizumab and roboxistaurin are the currently available anti-VEGF agents. Agents with activity occurring later down the angiogenic pathway and those drugs with potential to synergize with anti-VEGF-A technologies are being developed. In recent years, inhibition of ocular VEGF has emerged as a promising treatment modality for diabetes and is currently undergoing evaluation in clinical trials. A potential role for these anti-VEGF agents in the prevention of PDR and DME are also emerging.
Keywords: Diabetic retinopathy, vascular endothelial growth factor, anti-VEGF, pegaptanib, ranibizumab, bevacizumab, roboxistaurin, diabetic macular edema
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