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A Das, P G McGuire, C Eriqat, R R Ober, E DeJuan, G A Williams, A McLamore, J Biswas, D W Johnson; Human diabetic neovascular membranes contain high levels of urokinase and metalloproteinase enzymes.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1999;40(3):809-813.
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PURPOSE: Retinal neovascularization is one of the leading causes of blindness. A crucial event in this process is the remodeling and penetration of the capillary basement membrane by migrating endothelial cells. This process requires proteolysis of basement membrane components by a variety of proteinases. The objective of the present study was to determine the expression of proteinases in human retinal tissues showing active neovascularization. METHODS: Epiretinal neovascular membranes surgically removed from patients with proliferative diabetic retinopathy were analyzed by zymography, and the types and amounts of proteinases present in the tissues were determined. Retinas from nondiabetic donor eyes served as control specimens. RESULTS: Both the high- (54 kDa) and low- (33 kDa) molecular-weight forms of urokinase were present at significantly higher levels in neovascular membranes than in normal retinas. The pro forms of the matrix metalloproteinases (MMP) MMP-2 and MMP-9 were significantly elevated in the neovascular membranes in comparison with levels in normal retinas. In addition, the active forms of these enzymes were present in the membranes, whereas there was no detectable level of the active forms in normal retinas. CONCLUSIONS: Human diabetic neovascular membranes contain high levels of urokinase and MMP. The increased activity of proteinases in the final common pathway of retinal neovascularization indicates that inhibition of these enzymes may be a useful therapeutic target as an alternative approach in the management of proliferative retinopathies.
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