Exploring the choroidal vascular labyrinth and its molecular and structural roles in health and disease

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2022 Mar;87:100994. doi: 10.1016/j.preteyeres.2021.100994. Epub 2021 Jul 17.


The choroid is a key player in maintaining ocular homeostasis and plays a role in a variety of chorioretinal diseases, many of which are poorly understood. Recent advances in the field of single-cell RNA sequencing have yielded valuable insights into the properties of choroidal endothelial cells (CECs). Here, we review the role of the choroid in various physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms, focusing on the role of CECs. We also discuss new insights regarding the phenotypic properties of CECs, CEC subpopulations, and the value of measuring transcriptomics in primary CEC cultures derived from post-mortem eyes. In addition, we discuss key phenotypic, structural, and functional differences that distinguish CECs from other endothelial cells such as retinal vascular endothelial cells. Understanding the specific clinical and molecular properties of the choroid will shed new light on the pathogenesis of the broad clinical range of chorioretinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, central serous chorioretinopathy and other diseases within the pachychoroid spectrum, uveitis, and diabetic choroidopathy. Although our knowledge is still relatively limited with respect to the clinical features and molecular pathways that underlie these chorioretinal diseases, we summarise new approaches and discuss future directions for gaining new insights into these sight-threatening diseases and highlight new therapeutic strategies such as pluripotent stem cell‒based technologies and gene therapy.

Keywords: Chorioretinal disease; Choroid; Choroidal endothelial cell; Fenestrations; Vascular endothelial growth factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Serous Chorioretinopathy*
  • Choroid / blood supply
  • Choroid Diseases* / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Endothelial Cells / pathology
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Humans
  • Macular Degeneration* / genetics
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence