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Complement inhibitors for age-related macular degeneration

Lookup NU author(s): Nik Tzoumas, Professor David SteelORCiD



Copyright © 2023 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.BACKGROUND: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common eye disease and leading cause of sight loss worldwide. Despite its high prevalence and increasing incidence as populations age, AMD remains incurable and there are no treatments for most patients. Mounting genetic and molecular evidence implicates complement system overactivity as a key driver of AMD development and progression. The last decade has seen the development of several novel therapeutics targeting complement in the eye for the treatment of AMD. This review update encompasses the results of the first randomised controlled trials in this field. OBJECTIVES: To assess the effects and safety of complement inhibitors in the prevention or treatment of AMD. SEARCH METHODS: We searched CENTRAL on the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, Embase, LILACS, Web of Science, ISRCTN registry,, and the WHO ICTRP to 29 June 2022 with no language restrictions. We also contacted companies running clinical trials for unpublished data. SELECTION CRITERIA: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with parallel groups and comparator arms that studied complement inhibition for advanced AMD prevention/treatment. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently assessed search results and resolved discrepancies through discussion. Outcome measures evaluated at one year included change in best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), untransformed and square root-transformed geographic atrophy (GA) lesion size progression, development of macular neovascularisation (MNV) or exudative AMD, development of endophthalmitis, loss of ≥ 15 letters of BCVA, change in low luminance visual acuity, and change in quality of life. We assessed risk of bias and evidence certainty using Cochrane risk of bias and GRADE tools. MAIN RESULTS: Ten RCTs with 4052 participants and eyes with GA were included. Nine evaluated intravitreal (IVT) administrations against sham, and one investigated an intravenous agent against placebo. Seven studies excluded patients with prior MNV in the non-study eye, whereas the three pegcetacoplan studies did not. The risk of bias in the included studies was low overall. We also synthesised results of two intravitreal agents (lampalizumab, pegcetacoplan) at monthly and every-other-month (EOM) dosing intervals. Efficacy and safety of IVT lampalizumab versus sham for GA For 1932 participants in three studies, lampalizumab did not meaningfully change BCVA given monthly (+1.03 letters, 95% confidence interval (CI) -0.19 to 2.25) or EOM (+0.22 letters, 95% CI -1.00 to 1.44) (high-certainty evidence). For 1920 participants, lampalizumab did not meaningfully change GA lesion growth given monthly (+0.07 mm², 95% CI -0.09 to 0.23; moderate-certainty due to imprecision) or EOM (+0.07 mm², 95% CI -0.05 to 0.19; high-certainty). For 2000 participants, lampalizumab may have also increased MNV risk given monthly (RR 1.77, 95% CI 0.73 to 4.30) and EOM (RR 1.70, 95% CI 0.67 to 4.28), based on low-certainty evidence. The incidence of endophthalmitis in patients treated with monthly and EOM lampalizumab was 4 per 1000 (0 to 87) and 3 per 1000 (0 to 62), respectively, based on moderate-certainty evidence. Efficacy and safety of IVT pegcetacoplan versus sham for GA For 242 participants in one study, pegcetacoplan probably did not meaningfully change BCVA given monthly (+1.05 letters, 95% CI -2.71 to 4.81) or EOM (-1.42 letters, 95% CI -5.25 to 2.41), as supported by moderate-certainty evidence. In contrast, for 1208 participants across three studies, pegcetacoplan meaningfully reduced GA lesion growth when given monthly (-0.38 mm², 95% CI -0.57 to -0.19) and EOM (-0.29 mm², 95% CI -0.44 to -0.13), with high certainty. These reductions correspond to 19.2% and 14.8% versus sham, respectively. A post hoc analysis showed possibly greater benefits in 446 participants with extrafoveal GA given monthly (-0.67 mm², 95% CI -0.98 to -0.36) and EOM (-0.60 mm², 95% CI -0.91 to -0.30), representing 26.1% and 23.3% reductions, respectively. However, we did not have data on subfoveal GA growth to undertake a formal subgroup analysis. In 1502 participants, there is low-certainty evidence that pegcetacoplan may have increased MNV risk when given monthly (RR 4.47, 95% CI 0.41 to 48.98) or EOM (RR 2.29, 95% CI 0.46 to 11.35). The incidence of endophthalmitis in patients treated with monthly and EOM pegcetacoplan was 6 per 1000 (1 to 53) and 8 per 1000 (1 to 70) respectively, based on moderate-certainty evidence. Efficacy and safety of IVT avacincaptad pegol versus sham for GA In a study of 260 participants with extrafoveal or juxtafoveal GA, monthly avacincaptad pegol probably did not result in a clinically meaningful change in BCVA at 2 mg (+1.39 letters, 95% CI -5.89 to 8.67) or 4 mg (-0.28 letters, 95% CI -8.74 to 8.18), based on moderate-certainty evidence. Despite this, the drug was still found to have probably reduced GA lesion growth, with estimates of 30.5% reduction at 2 mg (-0.70 mm², 95% CI -1.99 to 0.59) and 25.6% reduction at 4 mg (-0.71 mm², 95% CI -1.92 to 0.51), based on moderate-certainty evidence. Avacincaptad pegol may have also increased the risk of developing MNV (RR 3.13, 95% CI 0.93 to 10.55), although this evidence is of low certainty. There were no cases of endophthalmitis reported in this study. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: Despite confirmation of the negative findings of intravitreal lampalizumab across all endpoints, local complement inhibition with intravitreal pegcetacoplan meaningfully reduces GA lesion growth relative to sham at one year. Inhibition of complement C5 with intravitreal avacincaptad pegol is also an emerging therapy with probable benefits on anatomical endpoints in the extrafoveal or juxtafoveal GA population. However, there is currently no evidence that complement inhibition with any agent improves functional endpoints in advanced AMD; further results from the phase 3 studies of pegcetacoplan and avacincaptad pegol are eagerly awaited. Progression to MNV or exudative AMD is a possible emergent adverse event of complement inhibition, requiring careful consideration should these agents be used clinically. Intravitreal administration of complement inhibitors is probably associated with a small risk of endophthalmitis, which may be higher than that of other intravitreal therapies. Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimates of adverse effects and may change these. The optimal dosing regimens, treatment duration, and cost-effectiveness of such therapies are yet to be established.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tzoumas N, Riding G, Williams MA, Steel DH

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Year: 2023

Volume: 6

Online publication date: 14/06/2023

Acceptance date: 02/04/2023

ISSN (electronic): 1469-493X

Publisher: NLM (Medline)


DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009300.pub3

ePrints DOI: 10.57711/xs4x-0j39

PubMed id: 37314061