Autoantibodies to retinal astrocytes associated with age-related macular degeneration

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 1990;228(3):270-4. doi: 10.1007/BF00920033.


Sera from 128 patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) were examined and profiles of a variety of serum constituents, including immunoglobulins, alpha and beta globulins and autoantibodies, were tabulated. A similar series of tests were carried out on 20 control sera. The results indicate a higher incidence of serum abnormalities, particularly involving alpha-2 globulin, in patients with disturbance of pigmentation of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The sera were further tested for the presence of autoantibodies with specificity for retinal tissue, and five major staining patterns were observed. Many sera produced patterns of labelling on human retina identical to that observed using labelled monoclonal anti-glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) antibodies, which are an established marker of retinal astrocytes. Although anti-retinal autoantibodies have been reported in association with a number of ocular pathologies, the observation of anti-astrocyte autoantibodies is new. Astrocytes are involved in the maintenance of the blood-retinal barrier (BRB) and also appear to be the facultative antigen-presenting cells of neural tissue. The present results indicate that the formation of anti-astrocyte autoantibodies may be an early feature of the pathogenesis of AMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Astrocytes / immunology*
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology*
  • Blood Proteins / analysis
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / immunology
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / immunology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / immunology
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Autoantibodies
  • Blood Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein