Date: 04 Apr 2007

Glycoxidized particles mimic lipofuscin accumulation in aging eyes: a new age-related macular degeneration model in rabbits

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The biogenesis of drusen, a hallmark of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is still unclear. Lipofuscin, which extensively accumulates with age in RPE cells, is hardly soluble, derived in part from oxidation byproducts of the photoreceptor outer segments. The purpose of the current study is to develop a new AMD model in rabbits using glycoxidized particles as imitation lipofuscin, and determine whether accumulation of lipofuscin as insoluble material may play a role in drusen biogenesis and other pathogenesis of AMD.


To mimic the accumulation of insoluble lipofuscin, glycoxidized microspheres (glycox-MS) were made through a glycoxidation process with albumin and glycolaldehyde, α-hydroxy aldehyde. As a control, microspheres made with glutaraldehyde (cMS) and soluble glycoxidized (glycox-) albumin were prepared. Each material was implanted into the subretinal space in rabbits. The implanted area was assessed by funduscopy, fluorescein angiography, histology, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).


Compared with control microspheres, glycox-MS stagnated for a prolonged period in the cytoplasm of RPE cells. Eyes implanted with glycox-MS produced drusen-like deposits at a significantly higher frequency, when compared with the controls. Glycox-MS were observed at the margin of or beneath the drusen-like deposits in all cases. In some eyes with glycox-MS, late-onset sub-RPE choroidal neovascularization was observed, while control groups did not have these findings.


These results suggest that the accumulation of indigestible granules such as lipofuscin in RPE or subsequent depositions toward Bruch’s membrane may play a role in drusen biogenesis as a trigger of inflammation or via other mechanisms. This model of AMD may be useful to elucidate drusen biogenesis and pathogenesis of AMD.

Presented in part at the Annual Meetings of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Fort Lauderdale, FL, May 4, 2002 and May 5, 2003.
Supported in part by German Research Community (DFG) grant WI 880/9-1.