, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 195-210
Date: 16 Aug 2012

Genetic Predictors of Response to Photodynamic Therapy

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Abstract

In Western countries, therapeutic management of patients affected by choroidal neovascularization (CNV) secondary to different typologies of macular degeneration represents a major health care problem. Age-related macular degeneration is the disease most frequently associated with CNV development. Schematically, CNVs can be distinguished into classic and occult subtypes, which are characterized by variable natural history and different responsiveness to some therapeutic procedures. At present, the dramatic vision loss due to CNV can be mainly treated by two interventional strategies, which are utilizable in either single or combined modalities: photodynamic therapy with verteporfin (PDT-V), and intravitreal administration of drugs acting against vascular endothelial growth factor. The combined use of PDT-V and anti-angiogenic drugs represents one of the most promising strategies against neovascular macular degeneration, but it unavoidably results in an expensive increase in health resource utilization. However, the positive data from several studies serve as a basis for reconsidering the role of PDT-V, which has undergone a renaissance prompted by the need for a more rational therapeutic approach toward CNV. New pharmacogenetic knowledge of PDT-V points to exploratory prospects to optimize the clinical application of this intriguing photothrombotic procedure. In fact, a Medline search provides data regarding the role of several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) as genetic predictors of CNV responsiveness to PDT-V. Specifically, correlations between SNPs and different levels of PDT-V efficacy have been detected by examining the gene variants influencing (i) thrombo-coagulative pathways, i.e. methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) 677C>T (rs 1801133), factor V (F5) 1691 G>A (rs6025), prothrombin (F2) 20210G>A (rs1799963), and factor XIII-A (F13A1) 185G>T (rs5985); (ii) complement activation and/or inflammatory processes, i.e. complement factor H (CFH) 1277T>C (rs1061170), high-temperature requirement factor A1 (HTRA1) promoter -512G>A (rs11200638), and two variants of the C-reactive protein (CRP) gene (rs2808635 and rs876538); and (iii) production and bioavailability of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGFA-2578C>A [rs699947] and rs2146323). This article critically evaluates both the clinical plausibility and the opportunity to utilize the most important SNP-response interactions of PDT-V for an effective upgrade of the current anti-CNV therapeutic scenario. In addition, the pharmacogenetics of a very severe post-PDT-V adverse event, i.e. a decrease in acute vision, is briefly discussed. A comprehensive appraisal of the findings reviewed in this article should be carefully considered to design future trials aimed at verifying (after proper genotypic stratification of the enrolled patients) whether these innovative pharmacogenetic approaches will be able to improve the multifaceted interventional management of neovascular macular degeneration.