Retinopathy of Prematurity
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- Mechoulam, H. & Pierce, E.A. Am J Pharmacogenomics (2003) 3: 261. doi:10.2165/00129785-200303040-00004
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Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is an ischemia-induced proliferative retinopathy, which affects premature infants with low birth weight. It is a leading cause of visual impairment and blindness in children, and shares pathophysiological characteristics with other common ocular diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, central vein occlusion, and age-related macular degeneration. Pathologically similar inherited diseases such as Norrie disease suggest a possible genetic component in the susceptibility to ROP. The process of retinal neovascularization in ROP and in animal models of oxygen-induced retinopathy is complex, and involves angiogenic factors, such as vascular endothelial growth factor, and basement membrane components. Potential medical therapies for ROP, including modulators of angiogenic factors, inhibitors of basement membrane changes, endogenous inhibitors such as pigment epithelium derived factor, and anti-inflammatory drugs, have shown efficacy against neovascularization in several animal models. Some of these therapies are in clinical trials now for diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, and in the future may prove efficacious for the treatment of ROP.