Profiling and Bioinformatic Analysis of Differentially Expressed Cytokines in Aqueous Humor of High Myopic Eyes – Clues for Anti-VEGF Injections

Purpose: To investigate the aqueous humor growth factor profile in high myopic eyes and analyze the interaction of differentially expressed cytokines.

Methods: A case–control study including aqueous humor samples from 36 high myopic patients and 32 controls was conducted. Quantibody® Human Growth Factor Array was used to screen the presence of 40 growth factors in aqueous humor. Expressions of differential growth factors were validated by Bio-Plex ProTM multiplex bead-based immunoassay. Protein–protein interaction (PPI) and gene ontology (GO) analyses were performed.

Results: Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF-15), hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-AA were found to be significantly higher and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) was detected to be lower in high myopic eyes (all P = .03). Multi-plex bead-based assay further validated the differential expressions of four growth factors and all of them were significantly correlated with axial length (P < .001). Twenty-six proteins were mapped into PPI network and positive regulation of cell migration, cellular component movement, and cell motility were the most enriched biological processes based on GO analysis.

Conclusions: Differential expressed cytokines that indicates a distinctive intraocular microenvironment in high myopic eyes might provide clues for pathological changes within high myopic eyes after anti-VEGF injections.