Growth Factors and the Retina: Normal Vascularization and Pathologic Neovascularization

  • Robert N. Frank
  • Laura B. Sotolongo
Part of the Endocrinology and Metabolism book series (EAM, volume 5)


Growth of blood vessels within the human retina is normally completed at birth, and in other mammalian species that have been studied, including dogs, cats, mice, and rats, retinal vascularization stops within a few weeks after birth.*1 Studies of the retinas of normal adult mice and rats, using [3H]-thymidine autoradiography, have shown minimal labeling (0.01–0.1%) of vascular cell nuclei.5,6 This indicates that retinal vascular cells normally turn over scarcely at all during adult life. Thus, whenever vascular cell proliferation occurs in the adult retina, it is pathologic. The new vessels that are observed are always structurally and functionally abnormal. Although new vessels derived from the retinal circulation by definition begin their growth within the retina,7 eventually they always grow inwardly, break through the inner limiting membrane of the retina, and continue their growth on the vitreal surface of the inner limiting membrane, or actually within the vitreous (Fig. 2.1). Unlike normal vessels, retinal new vessels have thinned and often fenestrated endothelial


Diabetic Retinopathy Retinal Pigment Epithelium Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy 
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© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert N. Frank
  • Laura B. Sotolongo

There are no affiliations available

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