Data from human genetics, histopathology, and animal models reveal a major role for the complement system in the development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Genetic variations in the complement factor H (CFH) gene are associated with an elevated risk of AMD. In this study we sought to determine whether eyes from donors with a high-risk genotype (homozygosity for the histidine allele at codon 402) exhibit altered levels of membrane attack complex (MAC) in the choroid, compared to eyes with a low risk genotype (homozygosity for tyrosine). Proteins were extracted from the RPE/choroid of 18 donors (10 low risk and 8 high risk) and levels of MAC were assessed using an ELISA assay. Eyes from donors homozygous for the histidine allele showed 69% higher levels of MAC than those homozygous for the tyrosine allele (p < 0.05), independent of whether the eyes showed signs of early AMD. Our results provide evidence that high-risk CFH genotypes may affect AMD risk by increased deposition of MAC around the aging choriocapillaris.
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