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David J. Valent, Wai T. Wong, Emily Y. Chew, Catherine A. Cukras; Oral Dextromethorphan for the Treatment of Diabetic Macular Edema: Results From a Phase I/II Clinical Study. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2018;7(6):24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.7.6.24.
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The activation of microglia, the primary innate immune cell resident in the retina, produces inflammatory mediators, which underlie changes in diabetic retinopathy including increased vascular permeability. This study evaluates the safety and efficacy of dextromethorphan, a drug capable of inhibiting microglial activation, in the treatment of diabetic macular edema (DME).
A single-center, prospective, open-label phase I/II clinical trial enrolled five participants with macular involving DME who received oral dextromethorphan 60 mg twice daily for 6 months as monotherapy. Main outcome variables included central retinal subfield thickness (CST), best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), macula sensitivity, and late leakage on fluorescein angiogram (FA).
The study drug was well tolerated. At the primary end point of 6 months, mean CST decreased by −6.3% ± 6.8% and BCVA increased by +0.6 ± 5.11 (mean ± SEM) letters. Late leakage on FA was scored as improved in four of five study eyes. These findings were not correlated with changes in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), creatinine, or blood pressure.
In this proof-of-concept study, dextromethorphan administration as the primary treatment for DME was associated with decreased vascular leakage, suggesting possible therapeutic effects. Additional studies investigating the modulation of microglial activation is warranted.
These findings highlight microglial modulation as a potentially useful therapeutic strategy in the treatment of diabetic macular edema.
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