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Soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 contributes to the corneal antiangiogenic barrier
  1. Balamurali K Ambati1,
  2. Emory Patterson2,
  3. Pooja Jani2,
  4. Crystal Jenkins2,
  5. Eric Higgins2,
  6. Nirbhai Singh2,
  7. Tushar Suthar2,
  8. Nehali Vira2,
  9. Kimberly Smith2,
  10. Ruth Caldwell2
  1. 1Augusta Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Augusta, Georgia, USA
  2. 2Departments of Ophthalmology and Vascular Biology Center, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, US
  1. Correspondence to: Dr B K Ambati Augusta VAMC, One Freedon Way, Augusta, GA 30912, USA; bambati{at}


Purpose: Pathological neovascularisation within the normally avascular cornea is a serious event that can interfere with normal vision. Upregulation of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) has been associated with neovascularisation in the eye, suggesting that maintaining low levels of VEGF is important for corneal avascularity and intact vision. This study aims to determine the expression profile and possible contribution of sVEGFR-1 to the corneal avascular barrier.

Design: Experimental case series investigating VEGF and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt) levels in normal and neovascularised human corneas.

Participants: Four normal human corneas, five human corneas with alkali burns, three human corneas with aniridia, one with ocular cicatricial pemphigoid and two with interstitial keratitis were examined.

Methods: Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses were performed to determine sFlt and VEGF levels in normal and neovascularised human corneas. Immunoprecipitation was utilised to demonstrate sFlt–VEGF binding.

Results: Normal human corneas strongly express sFlt in the corneal epithelium and weakly in the corneal stroma close to the limbus. VEGF is bound by sFlt in the normal human cornea. Neovascularised human corneas have greatly reduced expression of sFlt and significantly less VEGF bound by sFlt.

Conclusions: sFlt is highly expressed in the human cornea and normally sequesters VEGF.

  • PBS, phosphate-buffered saline
  • SFlt, soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase
  • VCAM, vascular cell adhesion molecule
  • VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor

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  • Published Online First 6 December 2006

  • This work was supported in part by the Knights-Templar Eye Foundation (BKA) and Fight for Sight (BKA). The sponsors had no involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. The authors have no proprietary or financial interest in any of the material in the article.

  • Competing interests: None.

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