Blood-derived macrophages infiltrate the retina and activate Muller glial cells under experimental choroidal neovascularization

Exp Eye Res. 2005 Jul;81(1):38-47. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2005.01.013.


Inflammation is a major mechanism in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration, the most important cause of blindness in the elderly. Previous studies have focused on the role of macrophages in regulating the growth of pathological new vessels over the retina, called choroidal neovascularization (CNV). However, no research has been done to evaluate the role of inflammation as a mechanism of vision loss and retinal degeneration in the retina underlying CNV. In other neuropathological conditions, hematogenous macrophages and/or resident microglia contribute to neurodegeneration. We have combined laser-induced CNV in mice and bone marrow transplantation with GFP-labeled bone marrow to determine the relative role of recruited blood-derived macrophages versus resident microglia in the retina associated with CNV. Using these chimeric mice, we have found that many GFP-labeled cells infiltrated the retina underlying CNV but not the retina unaffected by CNV. Immunostaining for the cell adhesion molecules VCAM 1, ICAM 1, and PECAM was strongly upregulated in retinal blood vessels under CNV. All GFP-labeled cells were immunoreactive for the macrophage marker F4/80. Most (70%) of the F4/80 immunoreactive cells were GFP-labeled under CNV. The density of resident microglia did not increase. Most GFP-labeled cells were found in close proximity to activated Muller cells. Depleting circulating macrophages with clodronic acid diminished the density of F4/80 immunoreactive cells as well as the density of pERK immunoreactive Muller cells in the retina under CNV. Thus, recruitment of blood-derived macrophages more than resident microglia seems to be associated with CNV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Choroidal Neovascularization / metabolism
  • Choroidal Neovascularization / pathology*
  • Female
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia / pathology*
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism
  • Retinal Vessels / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / metabolism


  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins