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Increased serum VEGF and b-FGF in Graves' ophthalmopathy.

BACKGROUND: Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO) is thought to be an inflammatory disorder of autoimmune background. The aim of this study is to investigate the involvement of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (b-FGF) in patients with Graves' ophthalmopathy (GO).

METHODS: Serum concentrations of VEGF and b-FGF of 48 GO patients, 30 Graves' hyperthyroid disease (GD) patients without ophthalmopathy, and 30 healthy controls were measured by Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). Patients with GO were subdivided into two groups according to clinical activity scores (CAS): a score of 3 or less is considered as inactive (CAS ≤ 3, inactive GO, n = 14), and 4 or more is considered active eye disease (CAS ≥ 4, active GO; n = 34). All of the patients with active GO underwent corticosteroid therapy.

RESULTS: The concentrations of serum VEGF and b-FGF were significantly higher in patients with GO and in those with GD than in controls. The serum levels of VEGF and b-FGF in patients with active GO were higher than those in patients with inactive GO and those in GD patients (P < 0.05). Moreover, serum VEGF and b-FGF concentratison were significantly correlated with CAS in GO patients (p < 0.01). Mean VEGF and b-FGF levels in corticosteroid-responsive patients (CAS decreases ≥3 after treatment) decreased significantly after corticosteroid treatment (P < 0.05), and these changes were accompanied by a decrease of CAS (P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that serum VEGF and b-FGF levels were increased in patients with active GO and could reflect the degree of ocular inflammatory activity.

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