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Heping Xu, Judith Lecher, Usha Chakravarthy, Mei Chen; STAT3 activation in circulating immune cells is related to neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(13):72.
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The Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 3 (STAT3) pathway is known to play an important role in inflammation and angiogenesis. STAT3 can be activated by IL-6 family cytokines through the receptor IL-6R/gp130. Increased IL-6 has been detected in the plasma and vitreous in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of the STAT3 pathway in the pathogenesis of nAMD.
Blood cells from nAMD patients (n = 11) and age-, gender-matched healthy controls (n = 13) were stimulated with IL-6 for 20 minutes. The expression of the activated form of STAT3 (p-STAT3) was examined by flow cytometry. The mRNA levels of gp130, IL-6R and the suppressor of cytokine signalling 3 (SOCS3, a negative regulator of p-STAT3) were evaluated by real-time RT-PCR. Laser-induced choroidal neovascularisation (CNV) was performed in WT C57BL/6J mice as well as in the myeloid cell specific SOCS3 deficiency mice i.e., the LysMCre-SOCS3fl/fl mice. STAT3 activation in CNV lesions was examined by western blot. The size of CNV at different times after laser treatment was measured by confocal microscopy of RPE/choroidal flatmounts.
The expression of p-STAT3 in CD11b+ monocytes was significantly increased in nAMD patients compared to healthy controls, although mRNA expression of gp130, IL-6R and SOCS3 did not differ between patients and controls. The expression of p-STAT3 in the retinal and RPE/choroidal tissues was increased at 1 and 3 days after laser treatment. The administration of a STAT3 inhibitor LLL12 significantly suppressed CNV. CD11b+ monocytes from LysMCre-SOCS3fl/fl mice expressed higher levels of p-STAT3 compared to the cells from WT mice. Laser induced CNV developed earlier and were larger in LysMCre-SOCS3fl/fl mice compared to WT C57BL/6J mice.
Our results suggest that STAT3 activation in circulating monocytes may contribute to the development of choroidal neovascularisation in AMD, and targeting the STAT3 pathway may have therapeutic potential in nAMD.
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