Identifying Genetic Biomarkers Predicting Response to Anti-Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Injections in Diabetic Macular Edema

Rajya L. Gurung, Liesel M. Fitzgerald, Ebony Liu, Bennet J. McComish, Georgia Kaidonis, Bronwyn Ridge, Alex W. Hewitt, Brendan J. Vote, Nitin Verma, Jamie E. Craig, Kathryn P. Burdon

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Intraocular anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) therapies are the front-line treatment for diabetic macular edema (DME); however, treatment response varies widely. This study aimed to identify genetic determinants associated with anti-VEGF treatment response in DME. We performed a genome-wide association study on 220 Australian patients with DME treated with anti-VEGF therapy, genotyped on the Illumina Global Screening Array, and imputed to the Haplotype Reference Consortium panel. The primary outcome measures were changes in central macular thickness (CMT in microns) and best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA in ETDRS letters) after 12 months. Association between single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotypes and DME outcomes were evaluated by linear regression, adjusting for the first three principal components, age, baseline CMT/BCVA, duration of diabetic retinopathy, and HbA1c. Two loci reached genome-wide significance (p < 5 × 10−8) for association with increased CMT: a single SNP on chromosome 6 near CASC15 (rs78466540, p = 1.16 × 10−9) and a locus on chromosome 12 near RP11-116D17.1 (top SNP rs11614480, p = 2.69 × 10−8). Four loci were significantly associated with reduction in BCVA: two loci on chromosome 11, downstream of NTM (top SNP rs148980760, p = 5.30 × 10−9) and intronic in RP11-744N12.3 (top SNP rs57801753, p = 1.71 × 10−8); one near PGAM1P1 on chromosome 5 (rs187876551, p = 1.52 × 10−8); and one near TBC1D32 on chromosome 6 (rs118074968, p = 4.94 × 10−8). In silico investigations of each locus identified multiple expression quantitative trait loci and potentially relevant candidate genes warranting further analysis. Thus, we identified multiple genetic loci predicting treatment outcomes for anti-VEGF therapies in DME. This work may potentially lead to managing DME using personalized treatment approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4042
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • anti-vascular endothelial growth factor
  • diabetic macular edema
  • genome-wide association


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