Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of severe irreversible central vision loss in individuals over 65 years old. Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have shown that the region at chromosome 10q26, where the age-related maculopathy susceptibility (ARMS2/LOC387715) and HtrA serine peptidase 1 (HTRA1) genes are located, represents one of the strongest associated loci for AMD. However, the underlying biological mechanism of this genetic association has remained elusive. In this article, we extensively review the literature by us and others regarding the ARMS2/HTRA1 risk alleles and their functional significance. We also review the literature regarding the presumed function of the ARMS2 protein and the molecular processes of the HTRA1 protein in AMD pathogenesis in vitro and in vivo, including those of transgenic mice overexpressing HtrA1/HTRA1 which developed Bruch's membrane (BM) damage, choroidal neovascularization (CNV), and polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy (PCV), similar to human AMD patients. The elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of the ARMS2 and HTRA1 susceptibility loci has begun to untangle the complex biological pathways underlying AMD pathophysiology, pointing to new testable paradigms for treatment.
Keywords: Age-related macular degeneration (AMD); Age-related maculopathy susceptibility (ARMS2); General transcription factor IIi (Gtf2i); HtrA serine peptidase 1 (HTRA1); Neovascularization; Polypoidal choroidal vasculopathy.
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