Purpose: To identify biomarkers for predicting response to anti−vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapy in diabetic macular edema (DME) and evaluate any links between cytokine expression and optical coherence tomography (OCT) phenotype. Design: The IMAGINE is a post hoc image analysis and cytokine expression assessment of the Efficacy & Safety Trial of Intravitreal Injections Combined With PRP for CSME Secondary to Diabetes Mellitus (DAVE) randomized clinical trial. Methods: Subjects were categorized as anatomical responders or nonresponders, and within the responder group as rebounders and non-rebounders based on quantitative, longitudinal OCT criteria. Retinal layer and fluid features were extracted using an OCT machine-learning augmented segmentation platform. Responders were further sub-classified by rapidity of response. Aqueous concentrations of 54 cytokines were measured at multiple timepoints. Expression was compared between responder groups and correlated with OCT imaging biomarkers. Results: Of the 24 eyes studied, 79% were anatomical responders with 38% super responders, 17% early responders, and 25% slow responders. Twenty-one percent were nonresponders. Super responders had increased baseline vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) (880.0 pg/mL vs 245.4 pg/mL; P = .012) and decreased monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) (513.3 pg/mL vs 809.5 pg/mL; P = .0.042) concentrations compared with nonresponders. Interleukin-6 (−24.9 pg/mL vs 442.8 pg/mL; P = .032) concentrations increased among nonresponders during therapy. VEGF concentrations correlated with central subfield thickness (r = 0.49; P = .01). Panmacular retinal volume correlated with increased interleuckin-6 (r = 0.47; P = .02) and decreased MCP-1 (r = −0.45; P = .03). Matrix metallopeptidase-1 correlated with subretinal fluid volume (r = 0.50; P = .01). Conclusions: OCT imaging biomarkers correlated with both intraocular cytokines and responsiveness to anti-VEGF therapy, which indicated a possible link to underlying pathways and their relevance to DME prognosis. Baseline concentrations of VEGF and MCP-1 are associated with anatomic response to anti-VEGF therapy.
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