March 19-20, 2002
National Institutes of Health
Contact: Dr. S. Patricia Becerra
Pat Becerra will be speaking at the mini-symposium, Neurotrophic and Anti-angiogenic Effects of PEDF in the Eye, during ARVO 2004.
For more information: http://www.arvo.org/Meetings/minisymposia.asp.
About the Symposium
On March 19-20, 2002 the National Eye Institute sponsored a Symposium on Pigment Epithelium-Derived Factor (PEDF) that brought together clinicians and basic scientists from various institutions to discuss research on this interesting protein. The symposium provided them with the opportunity to present their work through posters and oral presentations as well as the occasion to interact informally during a reception, coffee breaks and lunch. The symposium was organized and chaired by NEI researcher, Dr. Patricia Becerra, of the Laboratory of Retinal Cell Molecular Biology. Dr. Becerra’s research group studies the biochemistry of PEDF and its importance for the retina. The PEDF Symposium had 67 registrants and was attended by persons from at least 4 NIH institutes and 13 outside organizations. Two of these organizations, BioProducts Maryland and GenVec, made generous financial contributions to the symposium which provided, among other amenities, a luncheon for participants.
The protein, PEDF, warranted this symposium because it is a protein with interesting biological properties. It has neuronal differentiating and survival activities and behaves as an inhibitor of angiogenesis; the expression of its transcripts is regulated by age. PEDF is endogenously expressed in ocular tissues, as well as other neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. Its clinical relevance is clearly indicated by the results obtained with animal models, which demonstrate that PEDF can protect photoreceptor cells from degeneration from light-induced damage, and from developing spinal cord motor neurons from axotomy-induced death, and can decrease neovascularization in animal models for retina and choroidal neovascularization.
All of these data support the increasing importance of PEDF’s biological activities. The specific aims of this symposium were to provide a forum for learning about and discussing PEDF’s molecular mechanism of action, regulation and clinical applications for diseases. Understanding the structure of PEDF and how it interacts with cells to control neuronal survival and differentiation, and angiogenesis, as well as its loss in aging, has potentially profound implications for our understanding of neuronal degeneration, retinal neovascularization, neoplasia, normal wound healing, and a host of diseases that afflict the elderly, such as age-related macular degeneration.
The symposium proceeded with interesting presentations and discussions varying from PEDF’s biochemistry, antitumor activity, antiangiogenic signaling, regulation by androgen, hypoxia and aging, neurotrophic effects on the cerebellum, photoreceptors and retinal neurons, motor neurons, as well as PEDF’s representation of the inhibitors for the stimulators/inhibitors balance that regulates angiogenesis in the retina, and the use of gene transfer as a potential treatment for ocular neovascularization. Among the new tools for PEDF research included a PEDF null mouse.
At the end of the meeting, a summary and panel discussion on future directions in PEDF research concluded that great progress has been made on PEDF during the last decade and that several points need to be addressed, such as, How to reconcile the mechanisms of action of PEDF as a pro-apoptotic factor for endothelial cells with that as an anti-apoptotic for neuronal cells? Do endothelial cells have PEDF receptors? What are the structural determinants in PEDF for its anti-angiogenic activity? What are the mechanisms for regulating PEDF at a posttranscriptional level, by oxygen, age, etc.? Do PEDF levels vary with age in the human eye?