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Immunobiology. 2012 Feb;217(2):127-46. doi: 10.1016/j.imbio.2011.07.019. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Age-related macular degeneration and the complement system.

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  • 1Clinical Neurosciences Division, University of Southampton, UK.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the developed world. It is a complex multifactorial disease, and despite new advances in treatment, many patients still succumb to visual impairment. The complement pathway has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many diseases, and recently variants in several genes encoding complement pathway proteins have been associated with AMD. Complement proteins have been found in histological specimens of eyes with AMD. Altered levels of both intrinsic complement proteins and activated products have been found in the circulation of patients with AMD. Complement activation may be triggered by oxidative stress, resulting from retinal exposure to incoming light; indeed an inter-play between these two pathological processes seems to exist. Finally, complement inhibitors are currently being evaluated in clinical trials. This article reviews the role of the complement system in AMD, and the potential of complement inhibition in preventing the devastating blindness resulting from this disease.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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