Plasma Biomarkers of Reticular Pseudodrusen and the Risk of Progression to Advanced Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Transl Vis Sci Technol. 2020 Sep 11;9(10):12. doi: 10.1167/tvst.9.10.12. eCollection 2020 Sep.


Purpose: To determine, using an aptamer-based technology in patients with intermediate age-related macular degeneration (AMD), (1) if there is a difference in plasma levels of 4979 proteins in patients with and without reticular pseudodrusen (RPD), and (2) if plasma levels of proteins are related to time to conversion to advanced AMD.

Methods: Patients with intermediate AMD and RPD were identified from an AMD registry. Relative concentrations of each protein were log (base 2) transformed and compared between patients with and without RPD using linear regression. A Cox proportional hazards survival model was fit to each aptamer to quantify associations with time to conversion. A pathway analysis was conducted in converters versus non-converters using the Reactome database.

Results: Of the 109 intermediate AMD patients, 39 had bilateral RPD (36%). Two proteins, TCL1A and CNDP1, were lower in patients in the intermediate AMD group with RPD. Twenty-one patients converted to advanced AMD with a median time to conversion of 25.2 months (range, 2.3-48.5 months) and median follow-up time in non-converters of 26.4 months (range, 0.03-49.7 months). Several proteins (lysozyme C, TFF3, RNAS6, and SAP3) distinguished patients who converted from those who did not convert to advanced AMD. The top conversion pathways included tumor necrosis factors bind their physiological receptors, digestion and absorption, signaling by activin, and signaling by TGF-β family members.

Conclusions: We identified a protein signature related to RPD, as well as to conversion to advanced AMD. The pathway analysis suggests that dysfunction of critical systemic pathways may have links to conversion to advanced AMD.

Translational relevance: Biomarkers identified in plasma likely reflect systemic alterations in protein expression in patients with intermediate AMD.

Keywords: aptamer-based proteomics; intermediate age-related macular degeneration; reticular pseudodrusen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration* / diagnosis
  • Proteins
  • Proteomics
  • Retinal Drusen* / diagnosis


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteins