The cell biology of the retinal pigment epithelium

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2020 Feb 24;100846. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2020.100846. Online ahead of print.


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), a monolayer of post-mitotic polarized epithelial cells, strategically situated between the photoreceptors and the choroid, is the primary caretaker of photoreceptor health and function. Dysfunction of the RPE underlies many inherited and acquired diseases that cause permanent blindness. Decades of research have yielded valuable insight into the cell biology of the RPE. In recent years, new technologies such as live-cell imaging have resulted in major advancement in our understanding of areas such as the daily phagocytosis and clearance of photoreceptor outer segment tips, autophagy, endolysosome function, and the metabolic interplay between the RPE and photoreceptors. In this review, we aim to integrate these studies with an emphasis on appropriate models and techniques to investigate RPE cell biology and metabolism, and discuss how RPE cell biology informs our understanding of retinal disease.

Keywords: Autophagy; Endosomes; Lysosomes; Metabolism; Organelles; Phagocytosis; Phagosome maturation.

Publication types

  • Review