Send to

Choose Destination
Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2008;106:215-22; discussion 222-4.

Retinal flavoprotein autofluorescence as a measure of retinal health.

Author information

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.



To establish that increased autofluorescence of mitochondrial flavoproteins, an indicator of mitochondrial oxidative stress, correlates with retinal cell dysfunction.


Retinal flavoprotein autofluorescence (FA) was imaged in humans with a fundus camera modified with 467DF8-nm excitation and 535-nm emission filters and a back-illuminated, electron-multiplying, charge-coupled device camera interfaced with a computer equipped with customized image capture software. Multiple digital images, centered on the fovea, were obtained from each eye. Histograms of pixel intensities in grayscale units were analyzed for average intensity and average curve width. Adults with diabetes mellitus, age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), central serous retinopathy, and retinal dystrophies, as well as healthy control volunteers, were imaged. Monolayers of cultured human retinal pigment epithelial (HRPE) cells, HRPE cells exposed to sublethal doses of H2O2, and HRPE cells exposed to H2O2 in the presence of antioxidants were imaged for FA using fluorescent photomicroscopy.


Control patients demonstrated low levels of retinal FA, which increased progressively with age. Diabetics without visible retinopathy demonstrated increased FA levels compared to control volunteers (P < .001). Diabetics with retinopathy demonstrated significantly higher FA values than those without retinopathy (P < .04). Patients with ARMD, central serous retinopathy, or retinal dystrophies also demonstrated significantly increased FA. Compared to control RPE cells, cells oxidatively stressed with H2O2 had significantly elevated FA (P < .05), which was prevented by antioxidants (P < .05).


Retinal FA is significantly increased with age and diseases known to be mediated by oxidative stress. Retinal FA imaging may provide a novel, noninvasive method of assessing retinal health and retinal dysfunction prior to retinal cell death.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for The American Ophthalmological Society Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center