Transgenic Mice With Increased Expression of VEGF in RPE Cells

Peter Campochiaro, MD The Johns Hopkins University


Vascular Endothelial Cell Growth Factor (VEGF) is a powerful growth factor that induces neovascularization (the formation of new blood vessels) beneath the eye's retina. Because choroidal neovascularization (CNV) occurs in age-related macular degeneration, several researchers have been interested in the possible causative role of VEGF. Dr. Campochiaro has succeeded in creating a transgenic breed of mouse that expresses VEGF in photoreceptors. Although VEGF is produced in proximity to the choroid (a layer of cells just beneath the retina where neovascularization occurs in humans), CNV does not occur in the mice. Dr. Campochiaro hypothesizes that the retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells prevent the VEGF from reaching the choroidal layer. In this continuation of last year's study, he is now testing this hypothesis by producing another transgenic mouse that produces VEGF in RPE cells in order to determine if they develop CNV. If they do, these mice will be important tools in studying CNV and for testing new therapies to halt or prevent neovascularization.