A Proinflammatory Function of Toll-Like Receptor 2 in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium as a Novel Target for Reducing Choroidal Neovascularization in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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Abstract

Current treatments for choroidal neovascularization, a major cause of blindness for patients with age-related macular degeneration, treat symptoms but not the underlying causes of the disease. Inflammation has been strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of choroidal neovascularization. We examined the inflammatory role of Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) in age-related macular degeneration. TLR2 was robustly expressed by the retinal pigment epithelium in mouse and human eyes, both normal and with macular degeneration/choroidal neovascularization. Nuclear localization of NF-κB, a major downstream target of TLR2 signaling, was detected in the retinal pigment epithelium of human eyes, particularly in eyes with advanced stages of age-related macular degeneration. TLR2 antagonism effectively suppressed initiation and growth of spontaneous choroidal neovascularization in a mouse model, and the combination of anti-TLR2 and antivascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 yielded an additive therapeutic effect on both area and number of spontaneous choroidal neovascularization lesions. Finally, in primary human fetal retinal pigment epithelium cells, ligand binding to TLR2 induced robust expression of proinflammatory cytokines, and end products of lipid oxidation had a synergistic effect on TLR2 activation. Our data illustrate a functional role for TLR2 in the pathogenesis of choroidal neovascularization, likely by promoting inflammation of the retinal pigment epithelium, and validate TLR2 as a novel therapeutic target for reducing choroidal neovascularization.

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Feng, L., Ju, M., Lee, K. Y. V., Mackey, A., Evangelista, M., Iwata, D., … Ng, Y. S. (2017). A Proinflammatory Function of Toll-Like Receptor 2 in the Retinal Pigment Epithelium as a Novel Target for Reducing Choroidal Neovascularization in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. American Journal of Pathology, 187(10), 2208–2221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajpath.2017.06.015

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