To determine the expression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) in choroidal neovascularization.
Surgically excised choroidal neovascular membranes (CNVMs) were obtained at vitrectomy from eight eyes with age-related macular degeneration, five eyes with high myopia, and two eyes with angioid streaks. Light microscopic immunohistochemical analysis was performed to detect CTGF, transforming growth factor β 1 (TGF-β1), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), pancytokeratin, and smooth muscle actin (SMA).
CNVMs were classified by fibrotic status as cellular CNVM, moderate fibrous CNVM, and extensive fibrous CNVM. CTGF expression was found in vascular cells, stromal cells, and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. For the stromal cells, fibroblastlike cells were most strongly positive for CTGF. CTGF immunoreactivity in the stroma was stronger in the fibrous CNVMs than in the cellular CNVMs. Immunohistochemical analysis of serial sections revealed colocalization of CTGF with TGF-β1 and VEGF; colocalization of CTGF with pancytokeratin and SMA was also found.
Our findings suggest that transdifferentiated RPE cells and vascular cells possess remarkable CTGF expression in CNVMs. This expression of CTGF may stimulate fibroblasts to produce extracellular matrix and may promote angiogenesis in vascular cells. Colocalized TGF-β1 and VEGF may also contribute the upregulation of CTGF.