Lipofuscin of the retinal pigment epithelium: a review

Eye (Lond). 1995:9 ( Pt 6):763-71. doi: 10.1038/eye.1995.192.


Accumulation of lipofuscin is one of the most characteristic features of ageing observed in retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells. The lipofuscin found in RPE cells differs from that of other body tissues due to the fact that it is mainly derived from the chemically modified residues of incompletely digested photoreceptor outer segments. It is a heterogeneous material composed of a mixture of lipids, proteins, and different fluorescent compounds, the main fluorophore of which has recently been identified as a derivative of vitamin A. Research interest has variously focussed on the roles of age, light damage, free radicals, antioxidants, visual pigments, retinal locus, lysosomal enzymes, and pigmentation on lipofuscin formation, as well as the effects of lipofuscin on RPE cell function and causation of retinal disease. This article reviews the recent advances in knowledge of the composition, origin, and possible deleterious effects of RPE cell lipofuscin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Antioxidants
  • Humans
  • Light
  • Lipofuscin / analysis
  • Lipofuscin / metabolism*
  • Lysosomes / enzymology
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism*
  • Retinal Diseases / metabolism
  • Rod Cell Outer Segment / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Lipofuscin
  • Melanins