Aqueous Cytokine Expression and Higher Order OCT Biomarkers: Assessment of the Anatomic-Biologic Bridge in the IMAGINE DME Study

Joseph R. Abraham, Charles C. Wykoff, Sruthi Arepalli, Leina Lunasco, Hannah J. Yu, Ming Hu, Jamie Reese, Sunil K. Srivastava, David M. Brown, Justis P. Ehlers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-339
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Ophthalmology
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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