BACKGROUND: Preclinical trials have shown beneficial effects of nerve growth factor (NGF) administration on visual function in animal models of retinitis pigmentosa (RP). The aim of this pilot study was to explore the potential efficacy of short term NGF eye drops treatment in patients affected by RP. METHODS: The trial consisted in 10 days daily administration of murine NGF as eye-drops for a total dose of 1 mg NGF/pt. Eight RP patients at an advanced stage of the disease were included in the trial. To monitor safety and potential adverse effects subjects underwent standard clinical measures and were requested to report any general or topic alterations following NGF assumption. Retinal function was assessed at baseline and after treatment by best-corrected visual acuity measurement (BCVA), macular focal electroretinogram (fERG) recording and Goldmann visual field testing. RESULTS: A transient tolerable local corneal irritation was the only adverse effect reported. fERG and BCVA remained within the limits determined by test-retest analysis of a large cohort of RP patients. Three patients reported a subjective feeling of improved visual performance. This was associated to a temporary enlargement of the visual field in all three patients and to improved fERG in two of the three. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term administration of NGF eye-drops caused neither significant adverse effects nor visual function losses in the tested RP patients. A minority of patients experienced an improvement of visual performance as shown by Goldmann visual field and fERG. This study supports the safety and possible efficacy of NGF eye-drops administration in RP patients. TRIAL REGISTRATION: EudraCT n. 2008-004561-26.
- Nerve Growth Factor
- Retinitis Pigmentosa