Age-related Macular Degeneration

Hibert ML, Chen Y, Ohringer N, Feuer WJ, Waheed NK, Heier JS, Calhoun MW, Rosenfeld PJ, Polimeni JR. Altered Blood Flow in the Ophthalmic and Internal Carotid Arteries in Patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration Measured Using Noncontrast MR Angiography at 7T. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol 2021;Abstract
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Age-related macular degeneration is associated with reduced perfusion of the eye; however, the role of altered blood flow in the upstream ophthalmic or internal carotid arteries is unclear. We used ultra-high-field MR imaging to investigate whether the diameter of and blood flow in the ophthalmic artery and/or the ICA are altered in age-related macular degeneration and whether any blood flow changes are associated with disease progression. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty-four patients with age-related macular degeneration and 13 similarly-aged healthy controls participated. TOF and high-resolution dynamic 2D phase-contrast MRA (0.26 × 0.26 × 2mm3, 100-ms effective sampling rate) was acquired at 7T. Vessel diameters were calculated from cross-sectional areas in phase-contrast acquisitions. Blood flow time-series were measured across the cardiac cycle. RESULTS: The ophthalmic artery vessel diameter was found to be significantly smaller in patients with age-related macular degeneration than in controls. Volumetric flow through the ophthalmic artery was significantly lower in patients with late age-related macular degeneration, with a significant trend of decreasing volumetric ophthalmic artery flow rates with increasing disease severity. The resistance index was significantly greater in patients with age-related macular degeneration than in controls in the ophthalmic artery. Flow velocity through the ophthalmic artery and ICA was significantly higher in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Ophthalmic artery blood flow as a percentage of ipsilateral ICA blood flow was nearly double in controls than in patients with age-related macular degeneration. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the hypothesis that vascular changes upstream to the eye are associated with the severity of age-related macular degeneration. Additional investigation into the potential causality of this relationship and whether treatments that improve ocular circulation slow disease progression is warranted.
Gnanaguru G, Wagschal A, Oh J, Saez-Torres KL, Li T, Temel RE, Kleinman ME, Näär AM, D'Amore PA. Targeting of miR-33 ameliorates phenotypes linked to age-related macular degeneration. Mol Ther 2021;29(7):2281-2293.Abstract
Abnormal cholesterol/lipid homeostasis is linked to neurodegenerative conditions such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. The most prevalent form, termed "dry" AMD, is characterized by pathological cholesterol accumulation beneath the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell layer and inflammation-linked degeneration in the retina. We show here that the cholesterol-regulating microRNA miR-33 was elevated in the RPE of aging mice. Expression of the miR-33 target ATP-binding cassette transporter (ABCA1), a cholesterol efflux pump genetically linked to AMD, declined reciprocally in the RPE with age. In accord, miR-33 modulated ABCA1 expression and cholesterol efflux in human RPE cells. Subcutaneous delivery of miR-33 antisense oligonucleotides (ASO) to aging mice and non-human primates fed a Western-type high fat/cholesterol diet resulted in increased ABCA1 expression, decreased cholesterol accumulation, and reduced immune cell infiltration in the RPE cell layer, accompanied by decreased pathological changes to RPE morphology. These findings suggest that miR-33 targeting may decrease cholesterol deposition and ameliorate AMD initiation and progression.
Perepelkina T, Fulton AB. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Applications for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Other Retinal Dystrophies. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):304-309.Abstract
Artificial intelligence (AI), with its subdivisions (machine and deep learning), is a new branch of computer science that has shown impressive results across a variety of domains. The applications of AI to medicine and biology are being widely investigated. Medical specialties that rely heavily on images, including radiology, dermatology, oncology and ophthalmology, were the first to explore AI approaches in analysis and diagnosis. Applications of AI in ophthalmology have concentrated on diseases with high prevalence, such as diabetic retinopathy, retinopathy of prematurity, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and glaucoma. Here we provide an overview of AI applications for diagnosis, classification, and clinical management of AMD and other macular dystrophies.
Gong D, Kras A, Miller JB. Application of Deep Learning for Diagnosing, Classifying, and Treating Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Semin Ophthalmol 2021;36(4):198-204.Abstract
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects nearly 200 million people and is the third leading cause of irreversible vision loss worldwide. Deep learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that can learn image recognition based on pre-existing datasets, creates an opportunity for more accurate and efficient diagnosis, classification, and treatment of AMD on both individual and population levels. Current algorithms based on fundus photography and optical coherence tomography imaging have already achieved diagnostic accuracy levels comparable to human graders. This accuracy can be further increased when deep learning algorithms are simultaneously applied to multiple diagnostic imaging modalities. Combined with advances in telemedicine and imaging technology, deep learning can enable large populations of patients to be screened than would otherwise be possible and allow ophthalmologists to focus on seeing those patients who are in need of treatment, thus reducing the number of patients with significant visual impairment from AMD.
Lains I, Pundlik SJ, Nigalye A, Katz R, Luo G, Kim IK, Vavvas DG, Miller JW, Miller JB, Husain D. BASELINE PREDICTORS ASSOCIATED WITH 3-YEAR CHANGES IN DARK ADAPTATION IN AGE-RELATED MACULAR DEGENERATION. Retina 2021;41(10):2098-2105.Abstract
PURPOSE: To assess the relationship between baseline age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and disease stage, as well as optical coherence tomography features seen in AMD, with 3-year changes in dark adaptation (DA). METHODS: Prospective longitudinal study including patients with AMD and a comparison group (n = 42 eyes, 27 patients). At baseline and 3 years, we obtained color fundus photographs, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography, and rod-mediated DA (20 minutes protocol). Multilevel mixed-effect models were used for analyses, with changes in rod intercept time at 3 years as the primary outcome. As some eyes (n = 11) reached the DA testing ceiling value at baseline, we used 3-year changes in area under the DA curve as an additional outcome. RESULTS: Baseline AMD, AMD stage, and hyperreflective foci on optical coherence tomography were associated with larger changes in rod intercept time at 3 years. When change in area under the DA curve was used as an outcome, in addition to these features, the presence of retinal atrophy and drusenoid pigment epithelial detachment had significant associations. New subretinal drusenoid deposits at 3 years were also associated with more pronounced changes in rod intercept time and area under the DA curve. CONCLUSION: Specific optical coherence tomography features are associated with DA impairments over time, which supports that structural changes predict functional loss over 3 years.
Gonzalez-Buendia L, Delgado-Tirado S, An M, O'Hare M, Amarnani D, Whitmore HAB, Zhao G, Ruiz-Moreno JM, Arboleda-Velasquez JF, Kim LA. Treatment of Experimental Choroidal Neovascularization via RUNX1 Inhibition. Am J Pathol 2021;191(3):418-424.Abstract
Choroidal neovascularization (CNV) is a prevalent cause of vision loss in patients with age-related macular degeneration. Runt-related transcription factor 1 (RUNX1) has been identified as an important mediator of aberrant retinal angiogenesis in proliferative diabetic retinopathy and its modulation has proven to be effective in curbing pathologic angiogenesis in experimental oxygen-induced retinopathy. However, its role in CNV remains to be elucidated. This study demonstrates RUNX1 expression in critical cell types involved in a laser-induced model of CNV in mice. Furthermore, the preclinical efficacy of Ro5-3335, a small molecule inhibitor of RUNX1, in experimental CNV is reported. RUNX1 inhibitor Ro5-3335, aflibercept-an FDA-approved vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor, or a combination of both, were administered by intravitreal injection immediately after laser injury. The CNV area of choroidal flatmounts was evaluated by immunostaining with isolectin B4, and vascular permeability was analyzed by fluorescein angiography. A single intravitreal injection of Ro5-3335 significantly decreased the CNV area 7 days after laser injury, and when combined with aflibercept, reduced vascular leakage more effectively than aflibercept alone. These data suggest that RUNX1 inhibition alone or in combination with anti-VEGF drugs may be a new therapy upon further clinical validation for patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration.
Bontzos G, Bagheri S, Ioanidi L, Kim I, Datseris I, Gragoudas E, Kabanarou S, Miller J, Tsilimbaris M, Vavvas DG. Nonresponders to Ranibizumab Anti-VEGF Treatment Are Actually Short-term Responders: A Prospective Spectral-Domain OCT Study. Ophthalmol Retina 2020;4(12):1138-1145.Abstract
PURPOSE: To investigate the inter-individual variability in duration of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) treatment effect in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nvAMD). DESIGN: Prospective observational multi-centered study. PARTICIPANTS: Forty-eight patients with nvAMD treated with anti-VEGF injections were included. Both treatment naive (n=25) as well as patients who had previously received treatment with ranibizumab (n=23) more than one month prior to their enrollment were recruited. METHODS: Patients received injection with ranibizumab (0.5 mg/0.05 ml) and were followed weekly for 4 weeks with spectral-domain OCT (SD-OCT) assessing the time to maximal reduction of central retinal thickness (CRT) and the presence of intraretinal and subretinal fluid. Other data collected included age, gender, visual acuity, axial length, lens status, and previous injections. The Shapiro-Wilk test was used to examine normal distributions for all variables. Correlations were examined by calculating Spearman's correlation coeficient. Distributions of quantitative variables are described as means (±SD). Qualitative variables are summarized by counts and percentage. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Time to maximal reduction of CRT and intra- and subretinal fluid after ranibizumab injection. RESULTS: A total of 48 eyes of 48 patients (age 74.8±8.3 years, 62.5% female, 52% treatment naive, 35.4% pseudophakic) were assessed. Two-thirds (64.6%) reached maximal CRT reduction earlier than the standard 4-week interval: 6.3% at 1 week postinjection, 22.9% at 2 weeks postinjection, and 35.4% at 3 weeks postinjection. Only 35.4% of patients had maximal CRT reduction at 4 weeks. Twenty percent of treatment-naive and 34.8% of non-naive patients had a week-4 CRT that was >35 μm thicker than the earlier occuring lowest CRT value (nadir). The time to maximal CRT reduction was not related to axial length, age, lens status, or history of injections. CONCLUSIONS: Optimal dosing interval for maximal CRT reduction may be less than 4 weeks for a significant proportion of patients. Most patients will be classified as complete responders if intervals less than 4 weeks are used to assess anti-VEGF treatment response. Disease load rather than eye size appears to be the driver of anti-VEGF treatment duration and therefore, dosing interval needs to be optimized in the cohort of short-term responders.
Narayanan D, Rodriguez J, Wallstrom G, Welch D, Chapin M, Arrigg P, Abelson M. An exploratory study to evaluate visual function endpoints in non-advanced age-related macular degeneration. BMC Ophthalmol 2020;20(1):424.Abstract
BACKGROUND: To prevent irreversible vision loss in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), it is critical to detect retinal dysfunction before permanent structural loss occurs. In the current study we evaluated a series of visual function tests to identify potential endpoints to detect visual dysfunction in non-advanced AMD. METHODS: A series of visual function tests were performed on 23 non-advanced AMD subjects (AREDS grade 1-4 on simplified scale) and 34 age-matched normals (AREDS grade 0). Tests included some commonly used endpoints such as ETDRS visual acuity (VA), low luminance (LL) 2.0ND ETDRS VA, MNREAD as well as newly developed tests such as the Ora-VCF™ test, Ora-tablet reading test, color sensitivity etc. Differences between the two groups were compared for each test. Test-retest repeatability and reproducibility was assessed on a subset of subjects and percent agreement was calculated. RESULTS: There was no difference in standard ETDRS VA between non-advanced AMD (0.06 ± 0.02 logMAR) and normal groups (0.04 ± 0.02 logMAR) (p = 0.57). LL 2.0 ETDRS VA and MNREAD showed no difference between the groups (p > 0.05). Ora-VCF™ test was significantly worse in the non-advanced AMD group compared to normals (0.67 ± 0.07 in AMD; 0.45 ± 0.04 in normals, p = 0.005). Non-advanced AMD subjects also had significantly worse reading performance using the Ora-tablet with LL 2.0ND (114.55 ± 11.22 wpm in AMD; 145.17 ± 9.55 wpm in normals p = 0.049). No significant difference between the groups was noted using other tests. Repeatability was 82% for Ora-VCF™ test and 92% for Ora-tablet LL 2.0ND reading. Reproducibility was 89% for both Ora-VCF™ test and Ora-tablet LL 2.0ND reading. CONCLUSION: While there was no significant difference between non-advanced AMD and normal groups using some current common endpoints such as ETDRS VA, LL 2.0 ETDRS VA or MNREAD, Ora-VCF™ test and Ora-tablet LL 2.0ND reading tests were able to identify significant visual dysfunction in non-advanced AMD subjects. These tests show promise as endpoints for AMD studies.
Roh M, Miller JW, Jeng-Miller KW, Wang JC, Laíns I, Silverman RF, Loewenstein JI, Husain D, Vavvas DG, Miller JB. Subthreshold Exudative Choroidal Neovascularization Associated With Age-Related Macular Degeneration Identified by Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography. J Vitreoretin Dis 2020;4(5):377-385.Abstract
Purpose: This article describes the clinical and multimodal imaging characteristics of subthreshold exudative choroidal neovascularization (CNV) associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: Among 3773 patients with AMD, 8 eyes (6 patients) were identified with the clinical phenotype of interest. Dilated fundus examinations, color fundus photography, fluorescein angiography (FA), indocyanine green angiography (ICGA), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and OCT angiography (OCTA) were performed. Results: OCT typically showed a moderately reflective irregular pigment epithelial detachment with overlying subretinal fluid (SRF). Traditional FA did not show leakage and ICGA showed no definitive neovascular network or hot spots. However, OCTA clearly demonstrated a CNV within the pigment epithelial detachment. The majority of our cases (7 of 8) did not receive antivascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections, and visual acuity remained stable over the available follow-up period of I to 10 years. Conclusions: CNV is often associated with SRF and vision loss in AMD, usually requiring frequent anti-VEGF injections. OCTA allowed us to better identify CNV not readily detected on FA and ICGA. Although some have suggested early clinical intervention with anti-VEGF injections in any case with fluid and confirmed CNV on OCTA, we describe a subset of AMD patients with SRF who may be better managed by observation. These cases may represent a more indolent, mature, and stable vascular network.
Rossato FA, Su Y, Mackey A, Ng YSE. Fibrotic Changes and Endothelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition Promoted by VEGFR2 Antagonism Alter the Therapeutic Effects of VEGFA Pathway Blockage in a Mouse Model of Choroidal Neovascularization. Cells 2020;9(9)Abstract
Many patients with wet age-related macular degeneration do not respond well to anti- vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA) therapy for choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and the efficacy of anti-VEGFA decreases over time. We investigated the hypothesis that fibrotic changes, in particular via endothelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EndoMT), play a role in CNV and alter the therapeutic effects of VEGFA pathway blockage. Induction of EndoMT of primary human retinal endothelial cells led to a significantly reduced response to VEGFA at the level of gene expression, cellular proliferation, migration, and tube formation. Suppression of EndoMT restored cell responsiveness to VEGFA. In a mouse model of spontaneous CNV, fibrotic changes and EndoMT persisted as the CNV lesions became more established over time. VEGFA receptor-2 (VEGFR2) antagonism further induced fibrosis and EndoMT in the CNV. The combination of VEGFR2 antagonism and fibrosis/EndoMT inhibition was more effective than either individual treatment in reducing CNV. Our data indicate that fibrosis and EndoMT are involved in the progression of CNV, are exacerbated by VEGFR2 inhibition, and could provide an explanation for the reduced efficacy of anti-VEGFA treatment over time.
Papadopoulos Z. Recent Developments in the Treatment of Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration. Curr Med Sci 2020;40(5):851-857.Abstract
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible blindness and visual impairment in individuals over the age of 50 years in western societies. More than 25 million people currently suffer from this illness in the world, with an additional 500 000 every year, approximately. It is a multifactorial ocular disease that affects the maculae due to a late-onset progressive neurodegeneration and dysfunction of photoreceptors and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). There are many subtypes of AMD but basically two broad forms: the nonneovascular (dry, nonexudative) and neovascular (wet, exudative). Exudative AMD is the less common form (about 15%) but tends to progress more rapidly. At the moment, wet AMD is treated primarily on the basis of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) agents, which have led to massive improvement in the prognosis of the disease since they were first introduced. This article focuses on the latest treatment approaches to neovascular AMD. An extensive literature review was performed in order to illustrate the effectiveness of current and future anti-VEGF agents as well as the landmark clinical studies that have been carried out to establish these drugs as a gold standard in the therapy of wet AMD.
Narayanan D, Wallstrom G, Rodriguez J, Welch D, Chapin M, Arrigg P, Patil R, Abelson M. Early Ophthalmic Changes in Macula Does Not Correlate with Visual Function. Clin Ophthalmol 2020;14:2571-2576.Abstract
Purpose: Early detection and treatment of age-related macular degeneration require a clear understanding of the early progress of the disease. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether minimal macular ophthalmoscopic changes corresponded to changes in visual function. Methods: Color macular photos from a group of older subjects who were classified as grade 0 on AREDS simplified grading were further evaluated by a retinal specialist using 5x magnification for possible minimal macular anomalies. Group 0-A ( = 15) were defined as subjects with no visible macular anomalies while Group 0-B ( = 19) comprised subjects for whom minimal macular mottling, pigment changes or very small drusen (< 63 µm) were observed in the study eye. All subjects had best VA of 20/25 or better and had no evidence of other retinal diseases in the study eye. All subjects underwent a series of visual function tests such as standard ETDRS VA, low luminance ETDRS VA, Pelli-Robson contrast sensitivity, variable contrast flicker (VCF) sensitivity, and reading speed (words per minute, wpm) using both MNRead and low luminance reading on a tablet. Results: There was no significant difference between the mean age between the two groups (74.8 ± 5.2 years for 0-A vs 74.5 ± 4.4 for 0-B, = 0.82). None of the visual function tests identified any significant difference between the two groups. Mean ETDRS VA was 0.0 ± 0.11 for 0-A subjects and 0.08 ± 0.12 for 0-B ( = 0.063). Mean Pelli-Robson log contrast sensitivity was 1.75 ± 0.29 for 0-A and 1.78 ± 0.17 for the 0-B group ( = 0.73). VCF threshold was 0.47 ± 0.25 for 0-A and 0.43 ± 0.22 for 0-B ( = 0.64). Reading speed using MNRead was 214 ± 47.4 wpm for 0-A and 210 ± 64.7 for 0-B ( = 0.85). Low luminance tablet reading speed was 137 ± 71.8 wpm for 0-A and 151 ± 39.4 (0-B) ( = 0.49). Conclusion: A panel of psychophysical tests did not demonstrate significant differences between subjects with and without minimal macular changes.
Winkler TW, Grassmann F, Brandl C, Kiel C, Günther F, Strunz T, Weidner L, Zimmermann ME, Korb CA, Poplawski A, Schuster AK, Müller-Nurasyid M, Peters A, Rauscher FG, Elze T, Horn K, Scholz M, Cañadas-Garre M, McKnight AJ, Quinn N, Hogg RE, Küchenhoff H, Heid IM, Stark KJ, Weber BHF. Genome-wide association meta-analysis for early age-related macular degeneration highlights novel loci and insights for advanced disease. BMC Med Genomics 2020;13(1):120.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of blindness. While around half of the genetic contribution to advanced AMD has been uncovered, little is known about the genetic architecture of early AMD. METHODS: To identify genetic factors for early AMD, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analysis (14,034 cases, 91,214 controls, 11 sources of data including the International AMD Genomics Consortium, IAMDGC, and UK Biobank, UKBB). We ascertained early AMD via color fundus photographs by manual grading for 10 sources and via an automated machine learning approach for > 170,000 photographs from UKBB. We searched for early AMD loci via GWAS and via a candidate approach based on 14 previously suggested early AMD variants. RESULTS: Altogether, we identified 10 independent loci with statistical significance for early AMD: (i) 8 from our GWAS with genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10), (ii) one previously suggested locus with experiment-wise significance (P < 0.05/14) in our non-overlapping data and with genome-wide significance when combining the reported and our non-overlapping data (together 17,539 cases, 105,395 controls), and (iii) one further previously suggested locus with experiment-wise significance in our non-overlapping data. Of these 10 identified loci, 8 were novel and 2 known for early AMD. Most of the 10 loci overlapped with known advanced AMD loci (near ARMS2/HTRA1, CFH, C2, C3, CETP, TNFRSF10A, VEGFA, APOE), except two that have not yet been identified with statistical significance for any AMD. Among the 17 genes within these two loci, in-silico functional annotation suggested CD46 and TYR as the most likely responsible genes. Presence or absence of an early AMD effect distinguished the known pathways of advanced AMD genetics (complement/lipid pathways versus extracellular matrix metabolism). CONCLUSIONS: Our GWAS on early AMD identified novel loci, highlighted shared and distinct genetics between early and advanced AMD and provides insights into AMD etiology. Our data provide a resource comparable in size to the existing IAMDGC data on advanced AMD genetics enabling a joint view. The biological relevance of this joint view is underscored by the ability of early AMD effects to differentiate the major pathways for advanced AMD.
Ibrahim AS, Hussein K, Wang F, Wan M, Saad N, Essa M, Kim I, Shakoor A, Owen LA, Deangelis MM, Al-Shabrawey M. Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP)4 But Not BMP2 Disrupts the Barrier Integrity of Retinal Pigment Epithelia and Induces Their Migration: A Potential Role in Neovascular Age-Related Macular Degeneration. J Clin Med 2020;9(7)Abstract
Disruption of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) barrier integrity and RPE migration are hallmark features in neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD), but the underlying causes and pathophysiology are not completely well-defined. Herein, we aimed to evaluate the effect of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) on the barrier function and migration of RPE. In particular, we investigated the role of BMP2 and BMP4 in these processes as our analysis of RNA-sequencing (seq) data from human donor eyes demonstrated that they are highly differentially expressed BMP members in macular RPE/choroid versus macular retina. We used electrical cell-substrate impedance sensing (ECIS) system to monitor precisely in real time the barrier integrity and migration of ARPE-19 after treatment with various concentrations of BMP2 or BMP4. Immunofluorescence was also used to assess the changes in the expression and the organization of the key tight junction protein, zona occludens (ZO)-1, in ARPE-19 cells under BMP2 or BMP4 treatment. This was followed by measuring the activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Finally, RNA-seq and ELISA were used to determine the local and circulating levels of BMP2 and BMP4 in retinas and serum samples from nAMD donors. Our ECIS results showed that BMP4 but not BMP2 decreased the transcellular electrical resistance (TER) of ARPE-19 and increased their migration in comparison with control (vehicle-treated cells). Furthermore, immunofluorescence showed a disorganization of ZO-1 in BMP4-treated ARPE-19 not in BMP2-treated cells or vehicle-treated controls. This effect of BMP4 was associated with significant increases in the activity of MMPs, specifically MMP2. Lastly, these results were corroborated by additional findings that circulating but not local BMP4 levels were significantly higher in nAMD donor samples compared to controls. Collectively, our results demonstrated unreported effects of BMP4 on inducing RPE dysfunction and suggest that BMP4 but not BMP2 may represent a potential therapeutic target in nAMD.
Shu DY, Butcher E, Saint-Geniez M. EMT and EndMT: Emerging Roles in Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Int J Mol Sci 2020;21(12)Abstract
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) are physiological processes required for normal embryogenesis. However, these processes can be hijacked in pathological conditions to facilitate tissue fibrosis and cancer metastasis. In the eye, EMT and EndMT play key roles in the pathogenesis of subretinal fibrosis, the end-stage of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that leads to profound and permanent vision loss. Predominant in subretinal fibrotic lesions are matrix-producing mesenchymal cells believed to originate from the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and/or choroidal endothelial cells (CECs) through EMT and EndMT, respectively. Recent evidence suggests that EMT of RPE may also be implicated during the early stages of AMD. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) is a key cytokine orchestrating both EMT and EndMT. Investigations in the molecular mechanisms underpinning EMT and EndMT in AMD have implicated a myriad of contributing factors including signaling pathways, extracellular matrix remodelling, oxidative stress, inflammation, autophagy, metabolism and mitochondrial dysfunction. Questions arise as to differences in the mesenchymal cells derived from these two processes and their distinct mechanistic contributions to the pathogenesis of AMD. Detailed discussion on the AMD microenvironment highlights the synergistic interactions between RPE and CECs that may augment the EMT and EndMT processes in vivo. Understanding the differential regulatory networks of EMT and EndMT and their contributions to both the dry and wet forms of AMD can aid the development of therapeutic strategies targeting both RPE and CECs to potentially reverse the aberrant cellular transdifferentiation processes, regenerate the retina and thus restore vision.

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