Intravitreal itraconazole inhibits laser-induced choroidal neovascularization in rats.PLoS One. 2017; 12(6):e0180482.Plos
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is a major cause of severe visual loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Recently, itraconazole has shown potent and dose-dependent inhibition of tumor-associated angiogenesis. We evaluated the anti-angiogenic effect of itraconazole in a rat model of laser-induced CNV. After laser photocoagulation in each eye to cause CNV, right eyes were administered intravitreal injections of itraconazole; left eyes received balanced salt solution (BSS) as controls. On day 14 after laser induction, fluorescein angiography (FA) was used to assess abnormal vascular leakage. Flattened retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)-choroid tissue complex was stained with Alexa Fluor 594-conjugated isolectin B4 to measure the CNV area and volume. Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) mRNA and protein expression was determined 1, 4, 7, and 14 days after intravitreal injection by quantitative RT-PCR or Western blot. VEGF levels were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Intravitreal itraconazole significantly reduced leakage from CNV as assessed by FA and CNV area and volume on flat mounts compared with intravitreal BSS (p = 0.002 for CNV leakage, p<0.001 for CNV area and volume). Quantitative RT-PCR showed significantly lower expression of VEGFR2 mRNA in the RPE-choroid complexes of itraconazole-injected eyes than those of BSS-injected eyes on days 7 and 14 (p = 0.003 and p = 0.006). Western blots indicated that VEGFR2 was downregulated after itraconazole treatment. ELISA showed a significant difference in VEGF level between itraconazole-injected and BSS-injected eyes on days 7 and 14 (p = 0.04 and p = 0.001). Our study demonstrated that intravitreal itraconazole significantly inhibited the development of laser-induced CNV in rats. Itraconazole had anti-angiogenic activity along with the reduction of VEGFR2 and VEGF levels. Itraconazole may prove beneficial for treating CNV as an alternative or adjunct to other therapies.