Mechanisms of age-related macular degeneration

Neuron. 2012 Jul 12;75(1):26-39. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2012.06.018.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a progressive condition that is untreatable in up to 90% of patients, is a leading cause of blindness in the elderly worldwide. The two forms of AMD, wet and dry, are classified based on the presence or absence of blood vessels that have disruptively invaded the retina, respectively. A detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying wet AMD has led to several robust FDA-approved therapies. In contrast, there are no approved treatments for dry AMD. In this review, we provide insight into the critical effector pathways mediating each form of the disease. A recurring theme that spans most aspects of AMD pathogenesis is defective immune modulation in the classically immune-privileged ocular haven. Interestingly, the latest advances in AMD research also highlight common molecular disease pathways with other neurodegenerative disorders. Finally, the therapeutic potential of intervening at known mechanistic steps of AMD pathogenesis is discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blindness / epidemiology
  • Blindness / metabolism
  • Blindness / pathology
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration / epidemiology
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism*
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / pathology
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retina / pathology