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Exp Eye Res. 1986 Oct;43(4):561-73.

Influence of early photoreceptor degeneration on lipofuscin in the retinal pigment epithelium.


Experiments were conducted to evaluate the role played by photoreceptor cells in the accumulation of age pigment, or lipofuscin, in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The age-related accumulation of RPE lipofuscin was compared between rats with hereditary photoreceptor degeneration (RDY) and congenic rats with normal retinas. In the RDY animals, the age-related increase in RPE lipofuscin content was substantially less than in normal controls. This suggests that the photoreceptor cells play a significant role in RPE lipofuscin deposition, although they may not be the sole contributors to RPE lipofuscin formation. Evidence that outer-segment components may be converted into lipofuscin fluorophores was provided by the discovery that in young RDY rats, fragments of outer segments from degenerating photoreceptor cells had fluorescence properties similar to those of RPE lipofuscin. Chloroform-methanol extraction of retina-RPE tissue from young normal and dystrophic rats, and analysis of the chloroform fractions by thin-layer chromatography, revealed three distinct fluorescent components associated with the lipofuscin-like fluorescence of the outer-segment fragments in the RDY rats.

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