Review Article

Amino Acids

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 1205-1220

First online:

The pathogenic role of Maillard reaction in the aging eye

  • Ram H. NagarajAffiliated withDepartment of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Case Western Reserve University Email author 
  • , Mikhail LinetskyAffiliated withDepartment of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
  • , Alan W. StittAffiliated withCentre for Vision and Vascular Science, Queen’s University Belfast

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The proteins of the human eye are highly susceptible to the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) from the reaction of sugars and carbonyl compounds. AGEs progressively accumulate in the aging lens and retina and accumulate at a higher rate in diseases that adversely affect vision such as, cataract, diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration. In the lens AGEs induce irreversible changes in structural proteins, which lead to lens protein aggregation and formation of high-molecular-weight aggregates that scatter light and impede vision. In the retina AGEs modify intra- and extracellular proteins that lead to an increase in oxidative stress and formation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which promote vascular dysfunction. This review outlines recent advances in AGE research focusing on the mechanisms of their formation and their role in cataract and pathologies of the retina. The therapeutic action and pharmacological strategies of anti-AGE agents that can inhibit or prevent AGE formation in the eye are also discussed.


Lens Retina Aging Diabetes Cataract Diabetic retinopathy Age-related macular degeneration