Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness affecting the elderly in the Western world. The most severe form of AMD, wet AMD (wAMD), is characterized by choroidal neovascularization (CNV) and acute vision loss. The current treatment for these patients comprises monthly intravitreal injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) antibodies, but this treatment is expensive, uncomfortable for the patient, and only effective in some individuals. AMD is a complex disease that has strong associations with the complement system. All three initiating complement pathways may be relevant in CNV formation, but most evidence indicates a major role for the alternative pathway (AP) and for the terminal complement complex, as well as certain complement peptides generated upon complement activation. Since the complement system is associated with AMD and CNV, a complement inhibitor may be a therapeutic option for patients with wAMD. The aim of this review is to (i) reflect on the possible complement targets in the context of wAMD pathology, (ii) investigate the results of prior clinical trials with complement inhibitors for wAMD patients, and (iii) outline important considerations when developing a future strategy for the treatment of wAMD.
Keywords: age-related macular degeneration; anti-complement therapy; choroidal neovascularization; complement system.