In the absence of disease, the vasculature of the mammalian eye is quiescent, in part because of the action of angiogenic inhibitors that prevent vessels from invading the cornea and vitreous. Here, an inhibitor responsible for the avascularity of these ocular compartments is identified as pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF), a protein previously shown to have neurotrophic activity. The amount of inhibitory PEDF produced by retinal cells was positively correlated with oxygen concentrations, suggesting that its loss plays a permissive role in ischemia-driven retinal neovascularization. These results suggest that PEDF may be of therapeutic use, especially in retinopathies where pathological neovascularization compromises vision and leads to blindness.
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