Supplemental oxygen is necessary for normal lung development in premature neonates, but oxygen also suppresses VEGF-A expression in the retina, causing retinal vessel damage and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). The mechanisms responsible for survival of blood vessels in the developing retina have been unclear, but in the July 1 Journal of Clinical Investigation, Shu-Ching Shih and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital Boston show that selective stimulation of VEGFR-1 prevents oxygen-induced retinal vascular degeneration in ROP (Journal of Clinical Investigation, 112:50–57, July 1, 2003).

Shih et al. examined the expression of two VEGF-A receptors, VEGFR-1 (also known as Flt-1) and VEGFR-2 (also known as Flk-1), during normal retinal development in mice. They observed that at 5 days postpartum, VEGFR-1 was colocalized with retinal vessels, whereas VEGFR-2 was detected only in the neural retina. In addition, they used placental growth factor-1 (PlGF-1), which exclusively binds...

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