The Utah Protocol for Postmortem Eye Phenotyping and Molecular Biochemical Analysis


Owen LA, Shakoor A, Morgan DJ, Hejazi AA, McEntire WM, Brown JJ, Farrer LA, Kim I, Vitale A, Deangelis MM. The Utah Protocol for Postmortem Eye Phenotyping and Molecular Biochemical Analysis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2019;60(4):1204-1212.

Date Published:

2019 Mar 01


Purpose: Current understanding of local disease pathophysiology in AMD is limited. Analysis of the human disease-affected tissue is most informative, as gene expression, expressed quantitative trait loci, microenvironmental, and epigenetic changes can be tissue, cell type, and location specific. Development of a novel translational treatment and prevention strategies particularly for earlier forms of AMD are needed, although access to human ocular tissue analysis is challenging. We present a standardized protocol to study rapidly processed postmortem donor eyes for molecular biochemical and genomic studies. Methods: We partnered with the Utah Lions Eye Bank to obtain donor human eyes, blood, and vitreous, within 6 hours postmortem. Phenotypic analysis was performed using spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and color fundus photography. Macular and extramacular tissues were immediately isolated, and the neural retina and retinal pigment epithelium/choroid from each specimen were separated and preserved. Ocular disease phenotype was analyzed using clinically relevant grading criteria by a group of four ophthalmologists incorporating data from SD-OCT retinal images, fundus photographs, and medical records. Results: The use of multimodal imaging leads to greater resolution of retinal pathology, allowing greater phenotypic rigor for both interobserver phenotype and known clinical diagnoses. Further, our analysis resulted in excellent quality RNA, which demonstrated appropriate tissue segregation. Conclusions: The Utah protocol is a standardized methodology for analysis of disease mechanisms in AMD. It uniquely allows for simultaneous rigorous phenotypic, molecular biochemical, and genomic analysis of both systemic and local tissues. This better enables the development of disease biomarkers and therapeutic interventions.

Last updated on 04/01/2019