PurposeTo determine the association of aqueous humor cytokine concentrations with long-term treatment response to anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents in diabetic macular edema (DME).
DesignRetrospective case series.
MethodsPooled data of aqueous humor cytokine concentrations collected at baseline and 2-month follow-up (2 injections) for treatment-naïve eyes with center-involving DME previously enrolled in a prospective study were reviewed. Subjects receiving intravitreal anti-VEGF injections outside of study protocol as per standard of care were classified into Responders versus Nonresponders based on qualitative assessment of optical coherence tomography for persistence of DME at longitudinal follow-up visits.
ResultsOf the 41 eyes, 85% were classified as Responders with a significant decline in baseline central subfield thickness and macular volume (P values < .001), and 15% were identified as Nonresponders to anti-VEGF therapy over 51.4 ± 18.7 months of follow-up. No significant difference in baseline aqueous humor VEGF concentration was noted, while at the 2-month follow-up the Nonresponder group had a significantly higher VEGF concentration compared with the Responder group (451.5 ± 690.9 pg/mL vs 113.7 ± 211.4 pg/mL; P = .02). The Responder group also demonstrated a significant decline from baseline to 2-month follow-up in concentration of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (P < .001), interleukin-10 (P = .041), monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (P = .046), placental growth factor (P = .027), and transforming growth factor-β2 (P = .017).
ConclusionsAqueous humor cytokine concentrations serve as an early biomarker for long-term response to anti-VEGF therapy and may enable more effective treatment regimens that improve anatomical outcomes in eyes with DME.