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Aortic stiffness and systemic inflammation changes predict clinical response to intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy in patients with age-related macular degeneration


Aortic stiffness and systemic inflammation are predictors of cardiovascular risk. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents (anti-VEGF), injected intravitreally, can reverse the course of exudate age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We sought to investigate the association of changes in aortic stiffness and systemic inflammation with response to anti-VEGF therapy. 54 patients (mean age: 76 ± 10 years) with AMD received two consecutive monthly intravitreal injections of ranibizumab (0.5 mg). The primary outcome measure was change in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (PWV) from baseline to 1 month after the second injection. Secondary endpoint was the change in serum high sensitivity interleukin-6 (hsIL-6) levels. Ranibizumab caused a decrease of PWV after the first (by 0.36 ± 1.4 m/s) and the second injection (by 0.31 ± 1.4 m/s) and remained decreased 1 month after the second injection (overall P < 0.05). PWV decreased significantly in good responders (according to clinical criteria and fundus findings, P = 0.004), whereas it increased numerically in poor responders (P = 0.21) over the study period. In responders, hsIL-6 decreased after the first injection and remained decreased 1 month after the second injection (by 0.63 ± 0.35 pg/ml, overall P = 0.02). PWV (P = 0.005) and hsIL-6 (P = 0.042) were independent predictors of improvement after adjusting for age and presence of hypertension and diabetes. The decrease in PWV through the whole study period was positively correlated with the reduction in hsIL-6 (r = 0.36, P < 0.01). Intravitreal ranibizumab injections lead to a decrease in PWV and hsIL-6. Both parameters predict clinical improvement and may aid to improving treatment targeting and hence therapeutic outcome in patients with AMD.

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Fig. 1: Acute and mid-term systematic effect of intravitreal ranibizumab injections on aortic stiffness and inflammation.
Fig. 2: Positive association between changes in aortic stiffness and changes in systemic inflammation with response to intravitreal administration of ranibizumab.


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Authors and Affiliations



NI: conceived, designed, analyzed data, and revised the paper, IG: analyzed data, performed the work, and revised the paper, DG: performed the work, DT-P, CG, KA, SP, DT, CT: analyzed data and revised the paper, CV: conceived, designed, analyzed data, and revised the paper.

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Correspondence to Charalambos Vlachopoulos.

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Ioakeimidis, N., Gourgouli, I., Terentes-Printzios, D. et al. Aortic stiffness and systemic inflammation changes predict clinical response to intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy in patients with age-related macular degeneration. J Hum Hypertens (2022).

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