Histology of Type 3 Macular Neovascularization and Microvascular Anomalies in Treated Age-Related Macular Degeneration: A Case Study

Andreas Berlin, Diogo Cabral, Ling Chen, Jeffrey D. Messinger, Chandrakumar Balaratnasingam, Randev Mendis, Daniela Ferrara, K. Bailey Freund, Christine A. Curcio

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To investigate intraretinal neovascularization and microvascular anomalies by correlating in vivo multimodal imaging with corresponding ex vivo histology in a single patient. Design: A case study comprising clinical imaging from a community-based practice, and histologic analysis at a university-based research laboratory (clinicopathologic correlation). Participants: A White woman in her 90s treated with numerous intravitreal anti-VEGF injections for bilateral type 3 macular neovascularization (MNV) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: Clinical imaging comprised serial infrared reflectance, eye-tracked spectral-domain OCT, OCT angiography, and fluorescein angiography. Eye tracking, applied to the 2 preserved donor eyes, enabled the correlation of clinical imaging signatures with high-resolution histology and transmission electron microscopy. Main Outcome Measures: Histologic/ultrastructural descriptions and diameters of vessels seen in clinical imaging. Results: Six vascular lesions were histologically confirmed (type 3 MNV, n = 3; deep retinal age-related microvascular anomalies [DRAMAs], n = 3). Pyramidal (n = 2) or tangled (n = 1) morphologies of type 3 MNV originated at the deep capillary plexus (DCP) and extended posteriorly to approach without penetrating persistent basal laminar deposit. They did not enter the subretinal pigment epithelium (RPE)–basal laminar space or cross the Bruch membrane. Choroidal contributions were not found. The neovascular complexes included pericytes and nonfenestrated endothelial cells, within a collagenous sheath covered by dysmorphic RPE cells. Deep retinal age-related microvascular anomaly lesions extended posteriorly from the DCP into the Henle fiber and the outer nuclear layers without evidence of atrophy, exudation, or anti-VEGF responsiveness. Two DRAMAs lacked collagenous sheaths. External and internal diameters of type 3 MNV and DRAMA vessels were larger than comparison vessels in the index eyes and in aged normal and intermediate AMD eyes. Conclusions: Type 3 MNV vessels reflect specializations of source capillaries and persist during anti-VEGF therapy. The collagenous sheath of type 3 MNV lesions may provide structural stabilization. If so, vascular characteristics may be useful in disease monitoring in addition to fluid and flow signal detection. Further investigation with longitudinal imaging before exudation onset will help determine if DRAMAs are part of the type 3 MNV progression sequence. Financial Disclosure(s): Proprietary or commercial disclosure may be found after the references.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100280
JournalOphthalmology Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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