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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Feb 2;53(2):622-32. doi: 10.1167/iovs.11-8545.

Natural history of age-related retinal lesions that precede AMD in mice fed high or low glycemic index diets.

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  • 1Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research, JM-USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.



Epidemiologic data indicate that people who consume low glycemic index (GI) diets are at reduced risk for the onset and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The authors sought corroboration of this observation in an animal model.


Five- and 16-month-old C57BL/6 mice were fed high or low GI diets until they were 17 and 23.5 months of age, respectively. Retinal lesions were evaluated by transmission electron microscopy, and advanced glycation end products (AGEs) were evaluated by immunohistochemistry.


Retinal lesions including basal laminar deposits, loss of basal infoldings, and vacuoles in the retinal pigment epithelium were more prevalent in the 23.5- than in the 17-month-old mice. Within each age group, consumption of a high GI diet increased the risk for lesions and the risk for photoreceptor abnormalities and accumulation of AGEs.


Consuming high GI diets accelerates the appearance of age-related retinal lesions that precede AMD in mice, perhaps by increasing the deposition of toxic AGEs in the retina. The data support the hypothesis that consuming lower GI diets, or simulation of their effects with nutraceuticals or drugs, may protect against AMD. The high GI-fed C57BL/6 mouse is a new model of age-related retinal lesions that precede AMD and mimic the early stages of disease and may be useful for drug discovery.

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