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Eye (Lond). 2015 Nov;29(11):1416-26. doi: 10.1038/eye.2015.140. Epub 2015 Jul 31.

The stereotypical molecular cascade in neovascular age-related macular degeneration: the role of dynamic reciprocity.

Kent D1,2.

Author information

The Vision Clinic, Kilkenny, Ireland.
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.


This review summarises our current understanding of the molecular basis of subretinal neovascularisation (SRNV) in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The term neovascular AMD (NVAMD) is derived from the dominant early clinical features of haemorrhage, fluid, and lipid in the subretinal space (SRS) and the historical role of fluorescein angiography in detecting the presence of NV tissue. However, at the cellular level, SRNV resembles an aberrant but stereotypical tissue repair response that incorporates both an early inflammatory phase and a late fibrotic phase in addition to the neovascular (NV) component that dominates the early clinical presentation. This review will seek not only to highlight the important molecules involved in each of these components but to demonstrate that the development of SRNV has its origins in the earliest events in non-NV AMD pathogenesis. Current evidence suggests that this early-stage pathogenesis is characterised by complement-mediated immune dysregulation, leading to a state of chronic inflammation in the retinal pigment epithelium/Bruch's membrane/choriocapillaris complex. These initial events can be seamlessly and inextricably linked to late-stage development of SRNV in AMD by the process of dynamic reciprocity (DyR), the ongoing bidirectional communication between cells, and their surrounding matrix. Moreover, this correlation between disease onset and eventual outcome is reflected in the temporal and spatial correlation between chronic inflammation, NV, and fibrosis within the reparative microenvironment of the SRS. In summary, the downstream consequences of the earliest dysfunctional molecular events in AMD can result in the late-stage entity we recognize clinically as SRNV and is characterized by a spectrum of predictable, related, and stereotypical processes referred to as DyR.

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