Circulating endothelial and progenitor cells in age-related macular degeneration

Dario Pasquale Mucciolo*, Rossella Marcucci, Andrea Sodi, Francesca Cesari, Vittoria Murro, Angela Rogolino, Stanislao Rizzo, Betti Giusti, Gianni Virgili, Domenico Prisco, Anna Maria Gori

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate circulating endothelial and circulating progenitor cells as biomarkers in age-related macular degeneration patients (both exudative and atrophic forms) in order to establish the possible clinical implication of their assessment. Methods: We have enrolled 44 age-related macular degeneration patients: 22 patients with a recently diagnosed exudative (neovascular) form (Group A) and 22 patients with an atrophic (dry) form (Group B). The control group consisted of 22 age and sex-matched healthy subjects (Group C). The number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (CD34+/KDR+, CD133+/KDR+, and CD34+/KDR+/CD133+), circulating progenitor cells (CD34+, CD133+, and CD34+/CD133+), and circulating endothelial cells were determined in the peripheral venous blood samples by flow cytometry. Neovascular age-related macular degeneration patients were evaluated at baseline and 4 weeks after a loading phase of three consequent intravitreal injections of ranibizumab. Results: Comparing age-related macular degeneration patients with the control group, endothelial progenitor cell and circulating progenitor cell levels were not significantly different, while age-related macular degeneration patients showed significantly higher levels of circulating endothelial cells (p = 0.001). Anti–vascular endothelial growth factor treatment with intravitreal ranibizumab was associated with a significant reduction of endothelial progenitor cell levels, with no significant influence on circulating progenitor cells and circulating endothelial cells. Conclusion: We reported higher levels of circulating endothelial cells in age-related macular degeneration patients in comparison with the control group, thereby supporting the hypothesis of an involvement of endothelial dysregulation in the age-related macular degeneration and a reduction of the endothelial progenitor cell level in neovascular age-related macular degeneration patients after three intravitreal injections of ranibizumab.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)956-965
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number5
Early online date22 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • circulating endothelial cells
  • endothelial progenitor cells
  • ranibizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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