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Eye (Lond). 2011 Jun;25(6):683-93. doi: 10.1038/eye.2011.37. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Complement in age-related macular degeneration: a focus on function.

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Centre for Public Health, School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen's University Belfast, Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, UK.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an inflammatory disease, which causes visual impairment and blindness in older people. The proteins of the complement system are central to the development of this disease. Local and systemic inflammation in AMD are mediated by the deregulated action of the alternative pathway of the complement system. Variants in complement system genes alter an individual's risk of developing AMD. Recent studies have shown how some risk-associated genetic variants alter the function of the complement system. In this review, we describe the evolution of the complement system and bring together recent research to form a picture of how changes in complement system genes and proteins affect the function of the complement cascade, and how this affects the development of AMD. We discuss the application of this knowledge to prevention and possible future treatments of AMD.

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