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Research Update 582


Geographic Atrophy in Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Tale of Two Stages

Ophthalmology Science. 2023 Apr 10;

Keenan TDL

Purpose: To examine disease progression in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) at 2 distinct stages, progression to geographic atrophy (GA) versus GA expansion, by comparison of the risk and protective factors at each stage.

Design: Prospective.

Subjects: Individuals at risk of GA or with GA.

Main Outcome Measures: Progression to GA and GA expansion rate.

Methods: Critical synthesis of the literature on risk and protective factors, both environmental and genetic, for progression to GA versus GA expansion in AMD.

Results: Comparison of the risk and protective factors demonstrates partially overlapping but partially distinct risk and protective factors for progression to GA versus GA expansion. Some factors are shared (i.e., operating in the same direction at both stages), others are not shared, and others seem to operate in different directions at each stage. Risk variants at ARMS2/HTRA1 increase both risk of progression to GA and GA expansion rate, presumably through the same mechanism. By contrast, risk and protective variants at CFH/CFHR alter risk of GA but not GA expansion rate. A risk variant at C3 increases risk of GA but is associated with slower GA expansion. In environmental factors, cigarette smoking is associated with increased risk of GA and faster GA expansion, whereas increased age is associated with the former but not the latter. The Mediterranean diet is associated with decreased progression at both stages, although the food components with the largest contributions seem to differ between the 2 stages. Some phenotypic features, such as reticular pseudodrusen and hyperreflective foci, are associated with increased progression at both stages.

Conclusions: Analysis of the risk and protective factors for progression to GA and GA expansion demonstrates partially overlapping but partially distinct elements at each stage: some are shared, some are relevant to 1 stage only, and some even seem active in opposite directions at each stage. Aside from ARMS2/HTRA1, the overlap between the genetic risk factors for the 2 stages is minimal. This suggests that the biologic mechanisms differ at least partially between the 2 disease stages. This has implications for therapeutic approaches and suggests that treatment aimed at the underlying disease processes may need to be tailored by stage.

Financial Disclosures: Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

DOI: 10.1016/j.xops.2023.100306


Assessment of intraretinal hyperreflective foci using multimodal imaging in eyes with age-related macular degeneration.

Acta Ophthalmologica. 2023 May 18.

Oncel D, Corradetti G, He Y, Ashrafkhorasani M, Nittala MG, Stambolian D, Pericak-Vance MA, Haines JL, Sadda SR.

Purpose: This study aimed to investigate the correspondence between intraretinal hyperreflective foci (IHRF) identified on optical coherence tomography (OCT) B-scans with hyperpigmentation on colour fundus photography (CFP) or hyperreflectivity on infrared reflectance (IR) images in eyes with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Methods: Flash CFP, IR images and OCT B-scans obtained at the same visit were evaluated. Individual IHRF identified on OCT B-scans were assessed for the qualitative presence or absence of a hypotransmission tail into the choroid. The corresponding IR image obtained at the time of OCT acquisition was analysed for the presence or absence of hyperreflectivity in this region. The IR images were manually registered to the CFP image, and CFP images were inspected for the presence or absence of hyperpigmentation at the location of IHRF.

Results: From 122 eyes, a total of 494 IHRF were evaluated. For the primary analysis of qualitative presence or absence of hyperpigmentation on CFP and hyperreflectivity on IR at the locations corresponding to IHRF on OCT, 301 (61.0%) of the IHRFs demonstrated evidence of hyperpigmentation on CFP, while only 115 (23.3%) showed evidence of hyperreflectivity on IR. The qualitative determination of the presence or absence of an abnormality on CFP or IR were significantly different (p < 0.0001). 327 (66.2%) of the IHRF showed hypotransmission, and 80.4% of these IHRF showed hyperpigmentation on CFP, though only 23.9% (p < 0.0001) demonstrated hyperreflectivity on IR.

Conclusions: Less than two-thirds of IHRF evident on OCT manifest as hyperpigmentation on colour photos, though IHRF with posterior shadowing are more likely to be evident as pigment. IR imaging appears to be even more poorly sensitive for visualizing IHRF.

DOI: 10.1111/aos.15708

Subretinal Pseudocysts: A Comprehensive Analysis of this Novel OCT Finding.

Ophthalmology and therapy. 2023 May 17.

Menean M, Sacconi R, Vujosevic S, Kesim C, Quarta A, Ribarich N, Bottazzi L, Hilely A, Capuano V, Souied EH, Sarraf D, Bandello F, Querques G.

Introduction: In current clinical practice, several optical coherence tomography (OCT) biomarkers have been proposed for the assessment of severity and prognosis of different retinal diseases. Subretinal pseudocysts are subretinal cystoid spaces with hyperreflective borders and only a few single cases have been reported thus far. The aim of the study was to characterize and investigate this novel OCT finding, exploring its clinical outcome.

Methods: Patients were evaluated retrospectively across different centers. The inclusion criterion was the presence of subretinal cystoid space on OCT scans, regardless of concurrent retinal diseases. Baseline examination was set as the first time the subretinal pseudocyst was identified by OCT. Medical and ophthalmological histories were collected at baseline. OCT and OCT-angiography were performed at baseline and at each follow-up examination.

Results: Twenty-eight eyes were included in the study and 31 subretinal pseudocysts were characterized. Out of 28 eyes, 16 were diagnosed with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), 7 with central serous chorioretinopathy, 4 with diabetic retinopathy, and 1 with angioid streaks. Subretinal and intraretinal fluid were present in 25 and 13 eyes, respectively. Mean distance of the subretinal pseudocyst from the fovea was 686 µm. The diameter of the pseudocyst was positively associated with the height of the subretinal fluid (r = 0.46; p = 0.018) and central macular thickness (r = 0.612; p = 0.001). At follow-up, subretinal pseudocysts disappeared in most of the reimaged eyes (16 out of 17). Of these, two patients presented retinal atrophy at baseline examination and eight patients (47%) developed retinal atrophy at follow-up. Conversely, seven eyes (41%) did not develop retinal atrophy.

Conclusion: Subretinal pseudocysts are precarious OCT findings, usually disclosed in a context of subretinal fluid, and are probably transient alterations within the photoreceptor outer segments and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) layer. Despite their nature, subretinal pseudocysts have been associated with photoreceptor loss and incomplete RPE definition.

DOI: 10.1007/s40123-023-00727-8


Angiographic biomarkers are significant predictors of treatment response to intravitreal aflibercept in diabetic macular edema.

Scientific reports. 2023 May 19;

Hein M, Vukmirovic A, Constable IJ, Raja V, Athwal A, Freund KB, Balaratnasingam C.

This prospective single-center study aims to identify biomarkers that predict improvement in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and central retinal thickness (CRT) at 6 months, in 76 eyes with diabetic macular edema (DME) treated monthly with intravitreal aflibercept. At baseline, all patients underwent standardized imaging with color photography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), fluorescein angiography (FA) and OCT angiography (OCTA). Glycosylated hemoglobin, renal function, dyslipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and smoking were recorded. Retinal images were graded in a masked fashion. Baseline imaging, systemic and demographic variables were investigated to detect associations to BCVA and CRT change post aflibercept. Predictors of BCVA improvement included greater macular vessel density quantified using OCTA (p = 0.001) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) ≥ 2.6 mmol/L (p = 0.017). Lower macular vessel density eyes showed a significant reduction in CRT but no BCVA improvement. Predictors of CRT reduction included peripheral non-perfusion seen on ultrawide-field FA (p = 0.005) and LDL ≥ 2.6 mmol/L (p < 0.001). Retinal angiographic biomarkers derived from OCTA and ultrawide-field FA may help predict functional and anatomic response to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy in patients with DME. Elevated LDL is associated with treatment response in DME. These results may be used to better-select patients who will benefit from intravitreal aflibercept for treatment of DME.

DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-35286-2


Metagenomic Sequencing Analysis Identifies Cross-Cohort Gut Microbial Signatures Associated With Age-Related Macular Degeneration.

Investigative Ophthalmology & visual science May 1;

Xue W, Peng P, Wen X, Meng H, Qin Y, Deng T, Guo S, Chen T, Li X, Liang J, Zhang F, Xie Z, Jin M, Liang Q, Wei L.

Purpose: Alterations in the gut microbiota have been associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, the dysbiosis shared by different ethnicity and geographic groups, which may associate with the disease pathogenesis, remain underexplored. Here, we characterized dysbiosis of the gut microbiota in patients with AMD from Chinese and Swiss cohorts and identified cross-cohort signatures associated with AMD.

Methods: Shotgun metagenomic sequencing was performed on fecal samples from 30 patients with AMD and 30 healthy subjects. Published datasets with 138 samples from Swiss patients with AMD and healthy subjects were re-analyzed. Comprehensive taxonomic profiling was conducted by matching to the RefSeq genome database, metagenome-assembled genome (MAG) database, and Gut Virome Database (GVD). Functional profiling was performed by reconstruction of the MetaCyc pathways.

Results: The α-diversity of the gut microbiota was decreased in patients with AMD according to taxonomic profiles generated using MAG but not RefSeq database as reference. The Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio was also decreased in patients with AMD. Among AMD-associated bacteria shared between Chinese and Swiss cohorts, Ruminococcus callidus, Lactobacillus gasseri, and Prevotellaceae (f) uSGB 2135 were enriched in patients with AMD, whereas Bacteroidaceae (f) uSGB 1825 was depleted in patients with AMD and was negatively associated with hemorrhage size. Bacteroidaceae was one of the major hosts of phages associated with AMD. Three degradation pathways were reduced in AMD.

Conclusions: These results demonstrated that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota was associated with AMD. We identified cross-cohort gut microbial signatures involving bacteria, viruses, and metabolic pathways, which potentially serve as promising targets for the prevention or treatment of AMD.

DOI: 10.1167/iovs.64.5.11


Short-term outcomes of intravitreal faricimab for treatment-naïve neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

Graefe’s archive for clinical and experimental ophthalmology 2023 May 17

Matsumoto H, Hoshino J, Nakamura K, Nagashima T, Akiyama H.

Purpose: To investigate the efficacy and safety of loading phase treatment with 3 monthly intravitreal injections of faricimab for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).

Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 16-week outcomes of 40 consecutive eyes of 38 patients with treatment-naïve nAMD. Three monthly injections of faricimab were administered to all eyes as a loading phase treatment. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), foveal thickness, central choroidal thickness (CCT), and dry macula achievement were all assessed every 4 weeks. Moreover, the regression of polypoidal lesions was evaluated after the loading phase.

Results: BCVA was 0.33 ± 0.41 at baseline and showed significant improvement to 0.22 ± 0.36 at week 16 (P < 0.01). Foveal thickness was 278 ± 116 µm at baseline, decreasing significantly to 173 ± 48 µm at week 16 (P < 0.01). CCT was 214 ± 98 µm at baseline, decreasing significantly to 192 ± 89 µm at week 16 (P < 0.01). Dry macula was achieved in 31 eyes (79.5%) at week 16. Indocyanine green angiography after the loading phase revealed complete regression of polypoidal lesions in 11 of 18 eyes (61.1%) with polypoidal lesions. One eye (2.5%) developed vitritis without visual loss at week 16.

Conclusion: Loading phase treatment with intravitreal faricimab appears to generally be safe and effective for improving visual acuity and reducing exudative changes in eyes with nAMD.

DOI: 10.1007/s00417-023-06116-y

Retinal vascular structure independently predicts the initial treatment response in neovascular age-related macular degeneration.

Acta Ophthalmologica. 2023 May 17.

Leth-Møller Christensen K, Kristjansen DB, Vergmann AS, Torp TL, Peto T, Grauslund J.

Purpose: Prediction of the early treatment response is important in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD). Hence, we aimed to test if non-invasive measurements of the retinal vascular structure were able to predict a successful outcome of initial intravitreal treatment.

Methods: In 58 eyes of 58 patients with treatment-naïve nAMD, advanced markers of retinal vascular structure were measured by Singapore I Vessel Assessment prior to initial intravitreal treatment with three monthly injections of aflibercept with subsequently categorization of patients as full treatment responders (FTR) or non/partial treatment responders (N/PR), with the former defined as loosing fewer than five Early Treatment Diabetic Retinopathy Study letters and having no residual intra- or subretinal fluid or macular haemorrhage.

Results: Of 54 eyes attending follow-up, 44.4% were categorized as FTR. Patients with FTR were older (81.5 vs. 77 years, p = 0.04), and prior to treatment those eyes had a lower retinal arteriolar fractal dimension (Fd) (1.21 vs. 1.24 units, p = 0.02) and venular length-diameter ratio (LDR) (7.3 vs. 15.9 units, p = 0.006), but did not differ with respect to other retinal vascular parameters. In multiple logistic regression models, a lower chance of FTR was independently predicted by a higher retinal venular LDR (odds ratio [OR] 0.91, 95% CI 0.82-0.99, p = 0.03, for each 1 unit increment) and marginally by a higher retinal arteriolar Fd (OR 0.83, 95% CI 0.68-1.00, p = 0.05, for each 0.01 unit increment).

Conclusion: Retinal venular LDR independently predicted the initial treatment response in nAMD. If confirmed by long-term, prospective studies, this might help to guide treatment.

DOI: 10.1111/aos.15709