PURPOSE. To investigate the anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects of telmisartan, an angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1-R) antagonist, on ischemia-induced retinal neovascularization. METHODS. C57BL/6 neonatal mice were reared in an 80% concentration of oxygen from postnatal day (P)7 to P12, followed by room-air breathing until P17, to induce ischemia-initiated retinal neovascularization (i.e., a murine model of ischemic retinopathy). Tissue localization of AT1-R was examined by immunohistochemistry for murine retinal wholemounts and human fibrovascular tissues excised at vitrectomy for proliferative diabetic retinopathy. Animals received intraperitoneal injection of telmisartan or vehicle. A concanavalin A lectin perfusion-labeling technique was used to evaluate the areas of physiological and pathologic retinal new vessels and the number of leukocytes adhering to the vasculature. Retinal mRNA and protein levels of intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)-1, and VEGFR-2 were examined by RT-PCR and ELISA. RESULTS. Vessels in human fibrovascular tissues and the murine retinas were positive for AT1-R. Pathologic (P < 0.01), but not physiologic (P > 0.05), retinal neovascularization was significantly suppressed in telmisartan-treated mice compared with vehicle-treated animals. The number of adherent leukocytes (P < 0.01) was also significantly reduced, together with retinal ICAM-1 levels (P < 0.01) in the telmisartan-treated group compared with the control group. No significant difference was detected in retinal VEGFR-2 levels between the two groups, whereas retinal VEGFR-1 levels in the telmisartan-treated group were significantly (P < 0.05) lower than in the vehicle-treated group. CONCLUSIONS. The present findings suggest that the AT1-R signaling blockade leads to the selective suppression of pathologic, but not physiological, retinal neovascularization through the inhibition of the inflammatory processes related to pathologic neovascularization.
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