Transcriptomic Characterization of Human Choroidal Neovascular Membranes Identifies Calprotectin as a Novel Biomarker for Patients with Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Am J Pathol. 2020 Aug;190(8):1632-1642. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2020.04.004. Epub 2020 Apr 24.


Recent studies deciphering the transcriptional profile of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) in body donor eyes with neovascular age-related macular degeneration are limited by the time span from death to preservation and the associated 5'-RNA degradation. This study therefore used CNV and control specimens that were formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded immediately after surgical extraction and analyzed them by a 3'-RNA sequencing approach. Transcriptome profiles were analyzed to estimate content of immune and stromal cells and to define disease-associated gene signatures by using statistical and bioinformatics methods. This study identified 158 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) that were significantly increased in CNV compared with control tissue. Cell type enrichment analysis revealed a diverse cellular landscape with an enrichment of endothelial cells, macrophages, T cells, and natural killer T cells in the CNV. Gene ontology enrichment analysis found that DEGs contributed to blood vessel development, extracellular structure organization, response to wounding, and several immune-related terms. The S100 calcium-binding proteins A8 (S100A8) and A9 (S100A9) emerged among the top DEGs, as confirmed by immunohistochemistry on CNV tissue and protein analysis of vitreous samples. This study provides a high-resolution RNA-sequencing-based transcriptional signature of human CNV, characterizes its compositional pattern of immune and stromal cells, and reveals S100A8/A9 to be a novel biomarker and promising target for therapeutics and diagnostics directed at age-related macular degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Choroidal Neovascularization / diagnosis*
  • Choroidal Neovascularization / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis*
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Male
  • Transcriptome


  • Biomarkers
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex