Potential new approaches to treating eye diseases

February 4, 2016
These are high magnification images representing immunochemistry of IL-33 (green), Iba1 (red), and GFAP (yellow) in the central retina of a control eye and lesion and nonlesion areas of an AMD eye. The bright-field (BF) images show RPE loss in the AMD lesion site. Bars, 50 µm. Credit: Xi et al., 2016

Potential new approaches to treating eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are described in a new study, "IL-33 amplifies an innate immune response in the degenerating retina," in the February Journal of Experimental Medicine.

AMD is a leading cause of vision impairment in old age, and is caused by the degeneration of cells in the retinal layer of the eye. Retinal cell death can be induced by phagocytic immune cells that infiltrate the tissue in response to injury or infection, but the molecular signals that trigger phagocyte invasion are largely unknown. A team of researchers led by Hongkang Xi and Menno van Lookeren Campagne, of the Department of Immunology at Genentech, Inc., in South San Francisco, Calif., discovered that a pro-inflammatory signaling protein, or cytokine, called IL-33, plays a key role in recruiting phagocytes to damaged retina and inducing .

Working with rats and mice, Xi and colleagues found that specialized called Müller glial cells release IL-33 in response to retinal injury. The cytokine then binds to its receptor on the surface of the Müller cells and induces the release of additional inflammatory proteins that attract phagocytes to the damaged retina. Blocking the IL-33 receptor inhibited this process and prevented injury-induced retinal degeneration.

The researchers also found that IL-33 levels are increased in the retinas of AMD patients, suggesting that the same pathway may occur in humans. Inhibiting IL-33 may therefore help treat AMD and other .

"This study for the first time shows increased expression of IL-33 in AMD and further demonstrates a role for glia-derived IL-33 in the accumulation of myeloid cells in the outer retina, loss of photoreceptors, and functional impairment of the retina in preclinical models of retina stress," the authors note.

Explore further: Study suggests stem cells may repair dying retinal cells

More information: Hongkang Xi et al. IL-33 amplifies an innate immune response in the degenerating retina, The Journal of Experimental Medicine (2016). DOI: 10.1084/jem.20150894

Related Stories

Study suggests stem cells may repair dying retinal cells

January 21, 2016
Researchers at St. Erik Eye Hospital and Karolinska Institutet have for the first time successfully transplanted human retinal pigment epithelial cells derived from stem cells into eyes that are similar to human eyes. The ...

Scientists find potential target for dry AMD

November 3, 2015
Scientists have good news for patients who suffer from currently untreatable dry age-related macular degeneration (dry AMD). In a new study, researchers identified a potential target for future therapies to slow the progression ...

Will blocking IL-17A help treat kidney disease?

January 22, 2016
Many different diseases and insults can injure kidneys, resulting in kidney failure. Some autoimmune diseases damage glomeruli (the 'filtering units' of the kidney), while problems with the tubules (for example, impaired ...

New study links excessive iron in cells with AMD, other diseases

June 11, 2015
In a new University of Kentucky study published today in Cell Reports, a leading scientific journal in cell biology, researchers describe a new molecular mechanism that contributes to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) ...

Potential therapeutic targets identified for multiple sclerosis

January 25, 2016
Treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other inflammatory diseases may benefit by new findings from a study that identified potential therapeutic targets for a devastating disease striking some 2.3 million people worldwide.

Antibiotics may increase susceptibility to sexually transmitted infections

February 3, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—Commensal microbiota, populations of bacteria that inhabit the tissues of larger organisms, often have complex relationships with their hosts. Researchers have been aware for some time that commensal microbiota ...

Recommended for you

World's blind population to soar: study

August 3, 2017
The world's blind will increase threefold from about 36 million today to 115 million in 2050 as populations expand and individuals grow ever older, researchers said Thursday.

Simulations signal early success for fractal-based retinal implants

July 27, 2017
Computer simulations of electrical charges sent to retinal implants based on fractal geometry have University of Oregon researchers moving forward with their eyes focused on biological testing.

Scientists regenerate retinal cells in mice

July 26, 2017
Scientists have successfully regenerated cells in the retina of adult mice at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle.

Genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 prevents angiogenesis of the retina

July 24, 2017
A research team from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye and Ear has successfully prevented mice from developing angiogenesis of the retina—the sensory tissue at the back of the eye—using gene-editing ...

Too little vitamin D may hinder recovery of injured corneas

July 24, 2017
Injury or disease in combination with too little vitamin D can be bad for the window to your eyes.

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 ...

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.