Existing animal models of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) present several problems: they are hard to reproduce, they are inefficient, and the CNV created is not sustainable. The purpose of this study is to develop a highly efficient, reliable, sustainable rabbit model of CNV to facilitate the study of anti-angiogenic and anti-proliferative therapies for ocular diseases. Twenty-two pigmented rabbits were used in this study. Eleven rabbits received subretinal injections of either 10 μl of Matrigel with 500 ng of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) or 20 μl of Matrigel with 750 ng of VEGF; eight rabbits received subretinal injections of either 10 or 20 μl of Matrigel only; three rabbits used as controls received subretinal injections of 20 μl phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) alone. Fundus photography, fluorescein angiography, optical coherence tomography, and histologic examinations were performed 1, 2, 4, and 9 weeks after injection. All experimental eyes showed angiographic leakage within this localized area 1 week after injection. The amount of leakage usually increased at weeks 2 and 4 and, in most cases, persisted at week 9. Control eyes demonstrated no leakage at any time point. Optical coherence tomography of treated eyes showed subretinal fluid and the presence of a lesion, possibly vascular or fibrotic, at the site of the leakage. Histologic analysis confirmed the presence of new subretinal blood vessels in the areas of Matrigel deposit. In conclusion, this novel method provides a highly reproducible, reliable, and sustainable rabbit model of experimental choroidal neovascularization. Such a model may prove useful for screening new anti-angiogenic therapies in a larger animal eye. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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