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Review of intravitreal VEGF inhibitor toxicity and report of collapsing FSGS with TMA in a patient with age-related macular degeneration


Intravitreal vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor blockade is used for a variety of retinal pathologies. These include age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic macular edema (DME) and central retinal vein obstruction. Reports of absorption of intravitreal agents into systemic circulation have increased in number and confirmation of depletion of VEGF has been confirmed. Increasingly there are studies and case reports showing worsening hypertension, proteinuria, renal dysfunction and glomerular disease. The pathognomonic findings of systemic VEGF blockade, thrombotic microangiopathies (TMAs), are also being increasingly reported. One lesion that occurs in conjunction with TMAs that has been described is collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (cFSGS). cFSGS has been postulated to occur due to TMA-induced chronic glomerular hypoxia. In this updated review we discuss the mechanistic, pharmacological, epidemiological and clinical evidence of intravitreal VEGF toxicity. We review cases of biopsy-proven toxicity presented by our group and other investigators. We also present the third reported case of cFSGS in the setting of intravitreal VEGF blockade with a chronic TMA component that was crucially found on biopsy. This patient is a 74-year-old nondiabetic male receiving aflibercept for AMD. Of the two prior cases of cFSGS in the setting of VEGF blockade, one had AMD and the other had DME. This case solidifies the finding of cFSGS and its association with chronic TMA as a lesion that may be frequently encountered in patients receiving intravitreal VEGF inhibitors.

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