Age-related Macular Degeneration

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) Publications

Saint-Geniez M, Rosales MAB. Eyeing the Fountain of Youth. Cell Stem Cell 2017;20(5):583-584.Abstract
Stem cell-based disease modeling is an emerging technology for the mechanistic study and therapeutic screening of complex ocular pathologies. In this issue of Cell Stem Cell, Saini et al. (2017) show that iPSC-derived RPE cells from age-related macular degeneration patients express increased levels of pro-inflammatory factors that can be normalized by the anti-aging drug nicotinamide.
Laíns I, Duarte D, Barros AS, Martins AS, Gil J, Miller JB, Marques M, Mesquita T, Kim IK, da Cachulo ML, Vavvas D, Carreira IM, Murta JN, Silva R, Miller JW, Husain D, Gil AM. Human plasma metabolomics in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. PLoS One 2017;12(5):e0177749.Abstract
PURPOSE: To differentiate the plasma metabolomic profile of patients with age related macular degeneration (AMD) from that of controls, by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. METHODS: Two cohorts (total of 396 subjects) representative of central Portugal and Boston, USA phenotypes were studied. For each cohort, subjects were grouped according to AMD stage (early, intermediate and late). Multivariate analysis of plasma NMR spectra was performed, followed by signal integration and univariate analysis. RESULTS: Small changes were detected in the levels of some amino acids, organic acids, dimethyl sulfone and specific lipid moieties, thus providing some biochemical information on the disease. The possible confounding effects of gender, smoking history and age were assessed in each cohort and found to be minimal when compared to that of the disease. A similar observation was noted in relation to age-related comorbidities. Furthermore, partially distinct putative AMD metabolite fingerprints were noted for the two cohorts studied, reflecting the importance of nutritional and other lifestyle habits in determining AMD metabolic response and potential biomarker fingerprints. Notably, some of the metabolite changes detected were noted as potentially differentiating controls from patients diagnosed with early AMD. CONCLUSION: For the first time, this study showed metabolite changes in the plasma of patients with AMD as compared to controls, using NMR. Geographical origins were seen to affect AMD patients´ metabolic profile and some metabolites were found to be valuable in potentially differentiating controls from early stage AMD patients. Metabolomics has the potential of identifying biomarkers for AMD, and further work in this area is warranted.
Laíns I, Miller JB, Park DH, Tsikata E, Davoudi S, Rahmani S, Pierce J, Silva R, Chen TC, Kim IK, Vavvas D, Miller JW, Husain D. Structural Changes Associated with Delayed Dark Adaptation in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Ophthalmology 2017;Abstract
PURPOSE: To examine the relationship between dark adaptation (DA) and optical coherence tomography (OCT)-based macular morphology in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). DESIGN: Prospective, cross-sectional study. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with AMD and a comparison group (>50 years) without any vitreoretinal disease. METHODS: All participants were imaged with spectral-domain OCT and color fundus photographs, and then staged for AMD (Age-related Eye Disease Study system). Both eyes were tested with the AdaptDx (MacuLogix, Middletown, PA) DA extended protocol (20 minutes). A software program was developed to map the DA testing spot (2° circle, 5° superior to the fovea) to the OCT B-scans. Two independent graders evaluated the B-scans within this testing spot, as well as the entire macula, recording the presence of several AMD-associated abnormalities. Multilevel mixed-effects models (accounting for correlated outcomes between 2 eyes) were used for analyses. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome was rod-intercept time (RIT), defined in minutes, as a continuous variable. For subjects unable to reach RIT within the 20 minutes of testing, the value of 20 was assigned. RESULTS: We included 137 eyes (n = 77 subjects), 72.3% (n = 99 eyes) with AMD and the remainder belonging to the comparison group. Multivariable analysis revealed that even after adjusting for age and AMD stage, the presence of any abnormalities within the DA testing spot (ß = 4.8, P < 0.001), as well as any abnormalities in the macula (ß = 2.4, P = 0.047), were significantly associated with delayed RITs and therefore impaired DA. In eyes with no structural changes within the DA testing spot (n = 76, 55.5%), the presence of any abnormalities in the remaining macula was still associated with delayed RITs (ß = 2.00, P = 0.046). Presence of subretinal drusenoid deposits and ellipsoid zone disruption were a consistent predictor of RIT, whether located within the DA testing spot (P = 0.001 for both) or anywhere in the macula (P < 0.001 for both). Within the testing spot, the presence of classic drusen or serous pigment epithelium detachment was also significantly associated with impairments in DA (P ≤ 0.018). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest a significant association between macular morphology evaluated by OCT and time to dark-adapt. Subretinal drusenoid deposits and ellipsoid zone changes seem to be strongly associated with impaired dark adaptation.

PURPOSE: To determine the association between dark adaption (DA) and different health conditions linked with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: Cross-sectional study, including patients with AMD and a control group. Age-related macular degeneration was graded according to the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) classification. We obtained data on medical history, medications, and lifestyle. Dark adaption was assessed with the extended protocol (20 minutes) of AdaptDx (MacuLogix). For analyses, the right eye or the eye with more advanced AMD was selected. Multivariate linear and logistic regressions were performed, accounting for age and AMD stage. RESULTS: Seventy-eight subjects (75.6% AMD; 24.4% controls) were included. Multivariate assessments revealed that body mass index (BMI; β = 0.30, P = 0.045), taking AREDS vitamins (β = 5.51, P < 0.001), and family history of AMD (β = 2.68, P = 0.039) were significantly associated with worse rod intercept times. Abnormal DA (rod intercept time ≥ 6.5 minutes) was significantly associated with family history of AMD (β = 1.84, P = 0.006), taking AREDS supplements (β = 1.67, P = 0.021) and alcohol intake (β = 0.07, P = 0.017). CONCLUSION: Besides age and AMD stage, a higher body mass index, higher alcohol intake, and a family history of AMD seem to impair DA. In this cohort, the use of AREDS vitamins was also statistically linked with impaired DA, most likely because of an increased severity of disease in subjects taking them.

Tsikata E, Laíns I, Gil J, Marques M, Brown K, Mesquita T, Melo P, da Luz Cachulo M, Kim IK, Vavvas D, Murta JN, Miller JB, Silva R, Miller JW, Chen TC, Husain D. Automated Brightness and Contrast Adjustment of Color Fundus Photographs for the Grading of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2017;6(2):3.Abstract

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to develop an algorithm to automatically standardize the brightness, contrast, and color balance of digital color fundus photographs used to grade AMD and to validate this algorithm by determining the effects of the standardization on image quality and disease grading. METHODS: Seven-field color photographs of patients (>50 years) with any stage of AMD and a control group were acquired at two study sites, with either the Topcon TRC-50DX or Zeiss FF-450 Plus cameras. Field 2 photographs were analyzed. Pixel brightness values in the red, green, and blue (RGB) color channels were adjusted in custom-built software to make the mean brightness and contrast of the images equal to optimal values determined by the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) 2 group. RESULTS: Color photographs of 370 eyes were analyzed. We found a wide range of brightness and contrast values in the images at baseline, even for those taken with the same camera. After processing, image brightness variability (brightest image-dimmest image in a color channel) was reduced 69-fold, 62-fold, and 96-fold for the RGB channels. Contrast variability was reduced 6-fold, 8-fold, and 13-fold, respectively, after adjustment. Of the 23% images considered nongradable before adjustment, only 5.7% remained nongradable. CONCLUSIONS: This automated software enables rapid and accurate standardization of color photographs for AMD grading. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: This work offers the potential to be the future of assessing and grading AMD from photos for clinical research and teleimaging.

Zhang P, Zhu M, Geng-Spyropoulos M, Shardell M, Gonzalez-Freire M, Gudnason V, Eiriksdottir G, Schaumberg D, Van Eyk JE, Ferrucci L, Semba RD. A novel, multiplexed targeted mass spectrometry assay for quantification of complement factor H (CFH) variants and CFH-related proteins 1-5 in human plasma. Proteomics 2017;17(6)Abstract

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of visual loss among older adults. Two variants in the complement factor H (CFH) gene, Y402H and I62V, are strongly associated with risk of AMD. CFH is encoded in regulator of complement activation gene cluster in chromosome 1q32, which includes complement factor related (CFHR) proteins, CFHR1 to CFHR5, with high amino acid sequence homology to CFH. Our goal was to build a SRM assay to measure plasma concentrations of CFH variants Y402, H402, I62, and V62, and CFHR1-5. The final assay consisted of 24 peptides and 72 interference-free SRM transition ion pairs. Most peptides showed good linearity over 0.3-200 fmol/μL concentration range. Plasma concentrations of CFH variants and CFHR1-5 were measured using the SRM assay in 344 adults. Plasma CFH concentrations (mean, SE in μg/mL) by inferred genotype were: YY402, II62 (170.1, 31.4), YY402, VV62 (188.8, 38.5), HH402, VV62 (144.0, 37.0), HY402, VV62 (164.2, 42.3), YY402, IV62 (194.8, 36.8), HY402, IV62 (181.3, 44.7). Mean (SE) plasma concentrations of CFHR1-5 were 1.63 (0.04), 3.64 (1.20), 0.020 (0.001), 2.42 (0.18), and 5.49 (1.55) μg/mL, respectively. This SRM assay should facilitate the study of the role of systemic complement and risk of AMD.

Gnanaguru G, Choi AR, Amarnani D, D'Amore PA. Oxidized Lipoprotein Uptake Through the CD36 Receptor Activates the NLRP3 Inflammasome in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2016;57(11):4704-12.Abstract

PURPOSE: Accumulation of oxidized phospholipids/lipoproteins with age is suggested to contribute to the pathogenesis of AMD. We investigated the effect of oxidized LDL (ox-LDL) on human RPE cells. METHODS: Primary human fetal RPE (hf-RPE) and ARPE-19 cells were treated with different doses of LDL or ox-LDL. Assessment of cell death was measured by lactate dehydrogenase release into the conditioned media. Barrier function of RPE was assayed by measuring transepithelial resistance. Lysosomal accumulation of ox-LDL was determined by immunostaining. Expression of CD36 was determined by RT-PCR; protein blot and function was examined by receptor blocking. NLRP3 inflammasome activation was assessed by RT-PCR, protein blot, caspase-1 fluorescent probe assay, and inhibitor assays. RESULTS: Treatment with ox-LDL, but not LDL, for 48 hours caused significant increase in hf-RPE and ARPE-19 (P < 0.001) cell death. Oxidized LDL treatment of hf-RPE cells resulted in a significant decrease in transepithelial resistance (P < 0.001 at 24 hours and P < 0.01 at 48 hours) relative to LDL-treated and control cells. Internalized ox-LDL was targeted to RPE lysosomes. Uptake of ox-LDL but not LDL significantly increased CD36 protein and mRNA levels by more than 2-fold. Reverse transcription PCR, protein blot, and caspase-1 fluorescent probe assay revealed that ox-LDL treatment induced NLRP3 inflammasome when compared with LDL treatment and control. Inhibition of NLRP3 activation using 10 μM isoliquiritigenin significantly (P < 0.001) inhibited ox-LDL induced cytotoxicity. CONCLUSIONS: These data are consistent with the concept that ox-LDL play a role in the pathogenesis of AMD by NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Suppression of NLRP3 inflammasome activation could attenuate RPE degeneration and AMD progression.

Bowers AR, Sheldon SS, DeCarlo DK, Peli E. Bioptic Telescope Use and Driving Patterns of Drivers with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Transl Vis Sci Technol 2016;5(5):5.Abstract

PURPOSE: To investigate the telescope use and driving patterns of bioptic drivers with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS: A questionnaire addressing telescope use and driving patterns was administered by telephone interview to three groups of bioptic drivers: AMD (n = 31; median 76 years); non-AMD first licensed with a bioptic (n = 38; 53 years); and non-AMD first licensed without a bioptic (n = 47; 37 years). Driving patterns of bioptic AMD drivers were also compared with those of normal vision (NV) drivers (n = 36; 74 years) and nonbioptic AMD drivers (n = 34; 79 years). RESULTS: Bioptic usage patterns of AMD drivers did not differ from those of the younger bioptic drivers and greater visual difficulty without the bioptic was strongly correlated with greater bioptic helpfulness. Bioptic AMD drivers were more likely to report avoidance of night driving than the age-similar NV drivers (P = 0.06). However, they reported less difficulty than the nonbioptic AMD drivers in all driving situations (P ≤ 0.02). Weekly mileages of bioptic AMD drivers were lower than those of the younger bioptic drivers (P < 0.001), but not the NV group (P = 0.54), and were higher than those of the nonbioptic AMD group (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that bioptic telescopes met the visual demands of drivers with AMD and that those drivers had relatively unrestricted driving habits. TRANSLATIONAL RELEVANCE: Licensure with a bioptic telescope may prolong driving of older adults with AMD; however, objective measures of bioptic use, driving performance, and safety are needed.

Kang JH, Wu J, Cho E, Ogata S, Jacques P, Taylor A, Chiu C-J, Wiggs JL, Seddon JM, Hankinson SE, Schaumberg DA, Pasquale LR. Contribution of the Nurses' Health Study to the Epidemiology of Cataract, Age-Related Macular Degeneration, and Glaucoma. Am J Public Health 2016;106(9):1684-9.Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To review the contribution of the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) to understanding the genetic and lifestyle factors that influence the risk of cataract, age-related macular degeneration, and glaucoma. METHODS: We performed a narrative review of the publications of the NHS between 1976 and 2016. RESULTS: The NHS has helped to elucidate the roles of genetics, lifestyle factors (e.g., cigarette smoking associated with cataract extraction and age-related macular degeneration), medical conditions (e.g., diabetes associated with cataract extraction and glaucoma), and dietary factors (e.g., greater carotenoid intake and lower glycemic diet associated with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration) in the etiology of degree and progression of lens opacities, cataract extraction, age-related macular degeneration, primary open-angle glaucoma, and exfoliation glaucoma. CONCLUSIONS: The findings from the NHS, combined with those of other studies, have provided compelling evidence to support public health recommendations for helping to prevent age-related eye diseases: abstinence from cigarette smoking, maintenance of healthy weight and diabetes prevention, and a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Ma J, Sun Y, López FJ, Adamson P, Kurali E, Lashkari K. Blockage of PI3K/mTOR Pathways Inhibits Laser-Induced Choroidal Neovascularization and Improves Outcomes Relative to VEGF-A Suppression Alone. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2016;57(7):3138-44.Abstract

PURPOSE: Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is a major cause of visual loss with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We evaluated whether blockade of phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase (PI3K) and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), by impairing VEGF-A and other growth factor receptors like platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), would reduce laser-induced CNV in mice. METHODS: Choroidal neovascularization lesions were induced in C57BL/6 mice. Two groups of mice received oral GSK2126458 (3 mg/kg) or vehicle for 14 days following laser, whereas three groups were treated with GSK2126458 (6 μg/eye), aflibercept (2 μL/eye), or vehicle intravitreally on days 0 and 7 after laser. Vascular leakage was measured by fluorescein angiography (FA) on day 14. Choroidal neovascularization membranes were evaluated on choroidal flat mounts following FITC-dextran perfusion, as well as ED1 and isolectin B4 (IB4) immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Oral and intravitreal (IVT) GSK2126458 reduced leakage and area of CNV lesions. Greater probability of leaking lesions (∼60%; P < 0.05) was observed in both vehicle groups. Fluorescein isothiocyanate-dextran-labeled total CNV burden area (total lesion area/eye) was reduced ∼67% (P < 0.05) and 35% (P = 0.0528) after oral and IVT GSK2126458 administration. GSK2126458 treatment reduced lesion size by ∼80% (P < 0.05) and 50% (P < 0.05) for oral and IVT control groups. Aflibercept did not alter lesion size (∼27% reduction). CONCLUSIONS: Phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase/mTOR is involved in laser-induced CNV angiogenic processes. GSK2126458 effectively reduces CNV size and leakage. Choroidal neovascularization size following IVT GSK2126458 was smaller than after oral administration. Therefore, inhibition of PI3K/mTOR pathways may be more effective due to blockade of action of multiple growth factors.

Vavvas DG, Daniels AB, Kapsala ZG, Goldfarb JW, Ganotakis E, Loewenstein JI, Young LH, Gragoudas ES, Eliott D, Kim IK, Tsilimbaris MK, Miller JW. Regression of Some High-risk Features of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) in Patients Receiving Intensive Statin Treatment. EBioMedicine 2016;5:198-203.Abstract

IMPORTANCE: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) remains the leading cause of blindness in developed countries, and affects more than 150 million worldwide. Despite effective anti-angiogenic therapies for the less prevalent neovascular form of AMD, treatments are lacking for the more prevalent dry form. Similarities in risk factors and pathogenesis between AMD and atherosclerosis have led investigators to study the effects of statins on AMD incidence and progression with mixed results. A limitation of these studies has been the heterogeneity of AMD disease and the lack of standardization in statin dosage. OBJECTIVE: We were interested in studying the effects of high-dose statins, similar to those showing regression of atherosclerotic plaques, in AMD. DESIGN: Pilot multicenter open-label prospective clinical study of 26 patients with diagnosis of AMD and the presence of many large, soft drusenoid deposits. Patients received 80 mg of atorvastatin daily and were monitored at baseline and every 3 months with complete ophthalmologic exam, best corrected visual acuity (VA), fundus photographs, optical coherence tomography (OCT), and blood work (AST, ALT, CPK, total cholesterol, TSH, creatinine, as well as a pregnancy test for premenopausal women). RESULTS: Twenty-three subjects completed a minimum follow-up of 12 months. High-dose atorvastatin resulted in regression of drusen deposits associated with vision gain (+ 3.3 letters, p = 0.06) in 10 patients. No subjects progressed to advanced neovascular AMD. CONCLUSIONS: High-dose statins may result in resolution of drusenoid pigment epithelial detachments (PEDs) and improvement in VA, without atrophy or neovascularization in a high-risk subgroup of AMD patients. Confirmation from larger studies is warranted.

Iacovelli J, Rowe GC, Khadka A, Diaz-Aguilar D, Spencer C, Arany Z, Saint-Geniez M. PGC-1α Induces Human RPE Oxidative Metabolism and Antioxidant Capacity. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2016;57(3):1038-51.Abstract

PURPOSE: Oxidative stress and metabolic dysregulation of the RPE have been implicated in AMD; however, the molecular regulation of RPE metabolism remains unclear. The transcriptional coactivator, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) is a powerful mediator of mitochondrial function. This study examines the ability of PGC-1α to regulate RPE metabolic program and oxidative stress response. METHODS: Primary human fetal RPE (hfRPE) and ARPE-19 were matured in vitro using standard culture conditions. Mitochondrial mass of RPE was measured using MitoTracker staining and citrate synthase activity. Expression of PGC-1 isoforms, RPE-specific genes, oxidative metabolism proteins, and antioxidant enzymes was analyzed by quantitative PCR and Western blot. Mitochondrial respiration and fatty-acid oxidation were monitored using the Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer. Expression of PGC-1α was increased using adenoviral delivery. ARPE-19 were exposed to hydrogen peroxide to induce oxidative stress. Reactive oxygen species were measured by CM-H2DCFDA fluorescence. Cell death was analyzed by LDH release. RESULTS: Maturation of ARPE-19 and hfRPE was associated with significant increase in mitochondrial mass, expression of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) genes, and PGC-1α gene expression. Overexpression of PGC-1α increased expression of OXPHOS and fatty-acid β-oxidation genes, ultimately leading to the potent induction of mitochondrial respiration and fatty-acid oxidation. PGC-1α gain of function also strongly induced numerous antioxidant genes and, importantly, protected RPE from oxidant-mediated cell death without altering RPE functions. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides important insights into the metabolic changes associated with RPE functional maturation and identifies PGC-1α as a potent driver of RPE mitochondrial function and antioxidant capacity.

Eidet JR, Reppe S, Pasovic L, Olstad OK, Lyberg T, Khan AZ, Fostad IG, Chen DF, Utheim TP. The Silk-protein Sericin Induces Rapid Melanization of Cultured Primary Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells by Activating the NF-κB Pathway. Sci Rep 2016;6:22671.Abstract

Restoration of the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells to prevent further loss of vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration represents a promising novel treatment modality. Development of RPE transplants, however, requires up to 3 months of cell differentiation. We explored whether the silk protein sericin can induce maturation of primary human retinal pigment epithelial (hRPE) cells. Microarray analysis demonstrated that sericin up-regulated RPE-associated transcripts (RPE65 and CRALBP). Upstream analysis identified the NF-κB pathway as one of the top sericin-induced regulators. ELISA confirmed that sericin stimulates the main NF-κB pathway. Increased levels of RPE-associated proteins (RPE65 and the pigment melanin) in the sericin-supplemented cultures were confirmed by western blot, spectrophotometry and transmission electron microscopy. Sericin also increased cell density and reduced cell death following serum starvation in culture. Inclusion of NF-κB agonists and antagonists in the culture medium showed that activation of the NF-κB pathway appears to be necessary, but not sufficient, for sericin-induced RPE pigmentation. We conclude that sericin promotes pigmentation of cultured primary hRPE cells by activating the main NF-κB pathway. Sericin's potential role in culture protocols for rapid differentiation of hRPE cells derived from embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells should be investigated.

Fritsche LG, Igl W, Bailey JCN, Grassmann F, Sengupta S, Bragg-Gresham JL, Burdon KP, Hebbring SJ, Wen C, Gorski M, Kim IK, Cho D, Zack D, Souied E, Scholl HPN, Bala E, Lee KE, Hunter DJ, Sardell RJ, Mitchell P, Merriam JE, Cipriani V, Hoffman JD, Schick T, Lechanteur YTE, Guymer RH, Johnson MP, Jiang Y, Stanton CM, Buitendijk GHS, Zhan X, Kwong AM, Boleda A, Brooks M, Gieser L, Ratnapriya R, Branham KE, Foerster JR, Heckenlively JR, Othman MI, Vote BJ, Liang HH, Souzeau E, McAllister IL, Isaacs T, Hall J, Lake S, Mackey DA, Constable IJ, Craig JE, Kitchner TE, Yang Z, Su Z, Luo H, Chen D, Ouyang H, Flagg K, Lin D, Mao G, Ferreyra H, Stark K, von Strachwitz CN, Wolf A, Brandl C, Rudolph G, Olden M, Morrison MA, Morgan DJ, Schu M, Ahn J, Silvestri G, Tsironi EE, Park KH, Farrer LA, Orlin A, Brucker A, Li M, Curcio CA, Mohand-Saïd S, Sahel J-A, Audo I, Benchaboune M, Cree AJ, Rennie CA, Goverdhan SV, Grunin M, Hagbi-Levi S, Campochiaro P, Katsanis N, Holz FG, Blond F, Blanché H, Deleuze J-F, Igo RP, Truitt B, Peachey NS, Meuer SM, Myers CE, Moore EL, Klein R, Hauser MA, Postel EA, Courtenay MD, Schwartz SG, Kovach JL, Scott WK, Liew G, Tan AG, Gopinath B, Merriam JC, Smith TR, Khan JC, Shahid H, Moore AT, McGrath AJ, Laux R, Brantley MA, Agarwal A, Ersoy L, Caramoy A, Langmann T, Saksens NTM, de Jong EK, Hoyng CB, Cain MS, Richardson AJ, Martin TM, Blangero J, Weeks DE, Dhillon B, van Duijn CM, Doheny KF, Romm J, Klaver CCW, Hayward C, Gorin MB, Klein ML, Baird PN, den Hollander AI, Fauser S, Yates JRW, Allikmets R, Wang JJ, Schaumberg DA, Klein BEK, Hagstrom SA, Chowers I, Lotery AJ, Léveillard T, Zhang K, Brilliant MH, Hewitt AW, Swaroop A, Chew EY, Pericak-Vance MA, DeAngelis M, Stambolian D, Haines JL, Iyengar SK, Weber BHF, Abecasis GR, Heid IM. A large genome-wide association study of age-related macular degeneration highlights contributions of rare and common variants. Nat Genet 2016;48(2):134-43.Abstract

Advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly, with limited therapeutic options. Here we report on a study of >12 million variants, including 163,714 directly genotyped, mostly rare, protein-altering variants. Analyzing 16,144 patients and 17,832 controls, we identify 52 independently associated common and rare variants (P < 5 × 10(-8)) distributed across 34 loci. Although wet and dry AMD subtypes exhibit predominantly shared genetics, we identify the first genetic association signal specific to wet AMD, near MMP9 (difference P value = 4.1 × 10(-10)). Very rare coding variants (frequency <0.1%) in CFH, CFI and TIMP3 suggest causal roles for these genes, as does a splice variant in SLC16A8. Our results support the hypothesis that rare coding variants can pinpoint causal genes within known genetic loci and illustrate that applying the approach systematically to detect new loci requires extremely large sample sizes.

Zahr A, Alcaide P, Yang J, Jones A, Gregory M, Dela Paz NG, Patel-Hett S, Nevers T, Koirala A, Luscinskas FW, Saint-Geniez M, Ksander B, D'Amore PA, Argüeso P. Endomucin prevents leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion and has a critical role under resting and inflammatory conditions. Nat Commun 2016;7:10363.Abstract

Endomucin is a membrane-bound glycoprotein expressed luminally by endothelial cells that line postcapillary venules, a primary site of leukocyte recruitment during inflammation. Here we show that endomucin abrogation on quiescent endothelial cells enables neutrophils to adhere firmly, via LFA-1-mediated binding to ICAM-1 constitutively expressed by endothelial cells. Moreover, TNF-α stimulation downregulates cell surface expression of endomucin concurrent with increased expression of adhesion molecules. Adenovirus-mediated expression of endomucin under inflammatory conditions prevents neutrophil adhesion in vitro and reduces the infiltration of CD45(+) and NIMP-R14(+) cells in vivo. These results indicate that endomucin prevents leukocyte contact with adhesion molecules in non-inflamed tissues and that downregulation of endomucin is critical to facilitate adhesion of leukocytes into inflamed tissues.