Impaired autophagy associated with age-related macular degeneration

August 21, 2013

A new study published in the prestigious PLoS One journal changes our understanding of the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The researchers found that degenerative changes and loss of vision are caused by impaired function of the lysosomal clean-up mechanism, or autophagy, in the fundus of the eye. The results open new avenues for the treatment of the dry form of AMD, which currently lacks an efficient treatment. The University of Eastern Finland played a leading role in the study, which also involved research groups from Italy, Germany and Hungary.

AMD is the most common cause of visual impairment in the Western world, and the number of AMD patients is expected to soar in the upcoming decades. AMD is divided into the dry and wet form of the disease, and 85% of AMD patients suffer from dry AMD. Unfortunately, an efficient treatment involving injections into the eye only exists for the wet form of the disease.

AMD is a storage disease in which harmful protein accumulations develop behind the retina. These accumulations are indicative of the severity of the disease. As the disease progresses, retinal in the central vision area are damaged, leading to loss of . The cell underlying protein accumulations remain largely unknown.

For the first time ever, the present study showed that AMD is associated with impaired lysosomal autophagy, which is an important clean-up mechanism of the fundus of the eye. This renders the cells in the fundus of the eye unable to dispose of old, deformed or otherwise faulty proteins, which, in turn, leads to the development of protein accumulations and loss of vision. The study can be regarded as a breakthrough, as the results change our understanding of the pathogenesis of AMD and also open new avenues for the treatment of the dry form of AMD. Drugs inhibiting the impairment of could possibly even stop the progression of AMD.

Explore further: Researchers report a critical role for the complement system in early macular degeneration

More information: Viiri, J. et al. Autophagy Activation Clears ELAVL1/HuR-Mediated Accumulation of SQSTM1/p62 during Proteasomal Inhibition in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells, PLoS One, 2013 Jul 29;8(7):e69563. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069563.

Related Stories

Researchers report a critical role for the complement system in early macular degeneration

August 15, 2013
In a study published on line this week in the journal Human Molecular Genetics, Drs. Donita Garland, Rosario Fernandez-Godino, and Eric Pierce of the Ocular Genomics Institute at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical ...

New drug could help AMD sufferers

June 18, 2013
There is no cure for age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in older Americans. Last year, the National Institutes of Health reported that two drugs injected ...

Age-related macular degeneration treatment works even with other eye problem

November 11, 2012
The primary treatment for wet macular degeneration, a chronic eye condition that causes vision loss, is effective even if patients have macular traction problems, a Mayo Clinic study shows. The findings will be presented ...

Findings support link between hsCRP, macular degeneration

February 8, 2013
(HealthDay)—Pooled results from five cohorts confirm that high levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) correlate with increased future risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), according to research ...

VCU Medical Center first in Virginia to implant telescope for macular degeneration

April 15, 2013
Physicians at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center have become the first in Virginia to successfully implant a telescope in a patient's eye to treat macular degeneration.

Recommended for you

Combination of type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea indicates eyesight loss within four years

July 4, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered that patients who suffer from both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea are at greater risk of developing a condition that leads to blindness within an average ...

Nearly 60% of pinkeye patients receive antibiotic eye drops, but they're seldom necessary

June 28, 2017
A new study suggests that most people with acute conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, are getting the wrong treatment.

Magnetic implants used to treat 'dancing eyes'

June 26, 2017
A research team has successfully used magnets implanted behind a person's eyes to treat nystagmus, a condition characterised by involuntary eye movements.

Drug shows promise against vision-robbing disease in seniors

June 21, 2017
An experimental drug is showing promise against an untreatable eye disease that blinds older adults—and intriguingly, it seems to work in patients who carry a particular gene flaw that fuels the damage to their vision.

Reproducing a retinal disease on a chip

June 15, 2017
Approximately 80% of all sensory input is received via the eyes, so suffering from chronic retinal diseases that lead to blindness causes a significant decrease in the quality of life (QOL). And because retinal diseases are ...

New gene therapy for vision loss proven safe in humans

May 16, 2017
In a small and preliminary clinical trial, Johns Hopkins researchers and their collaborators have shown that an experimental gene therapy that uses viruses to introduce a therapeutic gene into the eye is safe and that it ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.