Changes in Inflammatory Biomarkers Including Soluble CD14 and Hyperreflective Foci in DME Patients Treated With Aflibercept (FORESIGHT)

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    Hyewon Chung
Updated on 30 September 2022
aflibercept injection
optical coherence tomography


This study evaluates the effect of aflibercept on the change of cytokines incluing sCD14, MCP-1, IL-6, and ICAM-1 in the aqueous humor of DME patients. Additionally, changes of visual acuity (ETDRS), optical coherence tomography parameters including hyperreflective foci and thickness of macula are also investigated.


Intraocular steroid agents have been shown to decrease inflammatory cytokines in diabetic macular edema (DME) patients and thus have roles in the treatment of these patients. However, I believe that anti-VEGF could effectively decrease intraocular inflammatory responses in these patients with much fewer side effects than intraocular steroid agents.

Since soluble CD14 (sCD14) is the known marker of inflammatory cells including microglia, increased or decreased retinal inflammation accompanied by DME could be monitored using sCD14 in patients with DME. Recently, I published an article regarding the strong association of increased sCD14 in the aqueous humor (AH) from DME patients, especially in increased inner retinal edema as well as increased hyper reflective foci (HF) in optical coherence tomography (OCT). This associated changes of sCD14 levels and HF in the retina suggested that the HF might represent the activated microglia in DME. I also showed that the intravitreal bevacizumab injection resulted in a reduction of sCD14 in the AH and HF in OCT. However, that study was retrospective and I could not have many patients' follow-up data after bevacizumab treatments and thus was not able to get conclusive results regarding decreased retinal inflammation after anti-VEGF. Therefore, I believe that a well-desinged prospective study is needed to clarify whether retinal inflammation is ameliorated after anti-VEGF treatment. Moreover, I believe that aflibercept is more appropriate and better drug than bevacizumab to investigate the changes in the cytokine levels along with the improvement of inflammatory milieu in DME due to the following reasons. First, recent Protocol-T reported the superior clinical outome of aflibercept compared to bevacizumab on DME. Second, aflibercept has significantly higher binding affinity to VEGF-A compared to ranibizumab or bevacizumab. Third, aflibercept also binds to VEGF-B and placental growth factor (PlGF), unlike ranibizumab or bevacizumab. PlGF-VEGFR1 pathway contributes to inflammation by triggering production of proinflammatory cytokines.

Thus, I would like to investigate the efficacy of aflibercept for reducing inflammation in DME. Therapeutic effects of aflibercept on reduction of DME in the context of amelioration of inflammation will be proved using sCD14 and HF as surrogate markers in this proposed study. Besides sCD14, tracking the cytokines including MCP-1, IL-6, and ICAM-1 in the AH in a well-controlled prospective setting of aflibercept treatments will enhance our understanding regarding the role of inflammation on DME, and the importance of aflibercept for decreasing ocular inflammation in DME patients.

Condition Diabetic Macular Edema
Treatment Aflibercept Injection
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03780361
SponsorHyewon Chung
Last Modified on30 September 2022

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