Abundance of infiltrating CD163+ cells in the retina of postmortem eyes with dry and neovascular age-related macular degeneration
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Prior research in animal models has suggested that retinal macrophages play an important role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but studies have insufficiently characterized the distribution of retinal macrophages in various stages of human AMD.
In this case series, we analyzed H&E, periodic acid-Schiff, and CD163 and CD68 immunostained slides from 56 formaldehyde-fixed, paraffin-embedded autopsy eyes of patients over age 75: 11 age-matched, normal eyes, and 45 AMD eyes.
Qualitative analysis of the macula and retinal periphery revealed that all eyes contained a significant number of CD163+ cells but a negligible number of CD68+ cells. In normal eyes and eyes with thin or infrequent basal laminar deposits, CD163+ cells were restricted to the inner retina. In contrast, in AMD eyes with thick basal deposits, choroidal neovascular membranes, and geographic atrophy, qualitatively there was a marked increase in the number and size of the CD163+ cells in the outer retina, sub-retinal, and sub-retinal pigment epithelium space in the macula.
The changes in number and localization of retinal CD163+ cells in eyes with intermediate-severe AMD support a key role for macrophages in the pathogenesis and progression of the disease. A larger, quantitative study evaluating the distribution of macrophage subpopulations in postmortem AMD eyes is warranted.
KeywordsAge related-macular degeneration Macrophages Inflammation Histopathology Postmortem eyes
Conflict of interest
All authors certify that they have NO affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest (such as honoraria; educational grants; participation in speakers’ bureaus; membership, employment, consultancies, stock ownership, or other equity interest; and expert testimony or patent-licensing arrangements), or non-financial interest (such as personal or professional relationships, affiliations, knowledge or beliefs) in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.
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