Immunological activity in the CNS is largely dependent on an innate immune response and is heightened in diseases, such as diabetic retinopathy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. The molecular dynamics governing immune cell recruitment to sites of injury and disease in the CNS during sterile inflammation remain poorly defined. Here, we identified a subset of mononuclear phagocytes (MPs) that responds to local chemotactic cues that are conserved among central neurons, vessels, and immune cells. Patients suffering from late-stage proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) had elevated vitreous semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A). Using a murine model, we found that SEMA3A acts as a potent attractant for neuropilin-1–positive (NRP-1–positive) MPs. These proangiogenic MPs were selectively recruited to sites of pathological neovascularization in response to locally produced SEMA3A as well as VEGF. NRP-1–positive MPs were essential for disease progression, as NRP-1–deficient MPs failed to enter the retina in a murine model of oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR), a proxy for PDR. OIR mice with NRP-1–deficient MPs exhibited decreased vascular degeneration and diminished pathological preretinal neovascularization. Intravitreal administration of a NRP-1–derived trap effectively mimicked the therapeutic benefits observed in mice lacking NRP-1–expressing MPs. Our findings indicate that NRP-1 is an obligate receptor for MP chemotaxis, bridging neural ischemia to an innate immune response in neovascular retinal disease.
Agnieszka Dejda, Gaelle Mawambo, Agustin Cerani, Khalil Miloudi, Zhuo Shao, Jean-Francois Daudelin, Salix Boulet, Malika Oubaha, Felix Beaudoin, Naoufal Akla, Sullivan Henriques, Catherine Menard, Andreas Stahl, Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Flavio A. Rezende, Nathalie Labrecque, Przemyslaw Sapieha