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M.A. Allende, J.M. Provis; Development of the Choriocapillaris in Human Foetal Retina . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(13):644.
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Purpose: To determine if maturation gradients in the retina are associated with development and proliferation of the vascular endothelium in the choroid. Methods: Frozen sections of human foetal eyes between 15 and 19 weeks' gestation were examined. Choroidal blood vessel development was assessed using antibodies to Ki-67, a marker expressed by proliferating cells, and CD34 a leucocyte antigen expressed by the developing human vascular endothelium. Sections were imaged using confocal microscopy and images subjected to morphometric analysis, including quantification of proliferating endothelial cells and estimation of choriocapillaris volume. The rate of proliferation of choroidal endothelial cells and volume of the choriocapillaris were compared in sample areas from differentiated retina (central or foveal) and sample areas from undifferentiated retina (temporal and nasal periphery). Results: Choroidal volume varies with both gestational age and relationship to differentiated retina. All specimens studied showed greatest choriocapillaris volume near the margins of the differentiating retina. This was in accordance with the high number of proliferating cells found in the choroidal endothelium, adjacent to areas nearing differentiation. The proliferation rate of choroidal endothelial cells was greatest in the fovea in the youngest specimen studied. The highest proliferation rate decreased with advancing gestation and progressed to the differentiating retinal margins, and then to the periphery. It peaked again in the fovea in the oldest specimen studied. Conclusions: The results indicate that differentiation of the choroid is associated with maturation gradients in the retina and that choriocapillaris development occurs as a result of waves originating beneath the fovea and spreading outwards to the periphery.
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