Optogenetics is a research field that uses gene therapy to deliver a gene encoding a light-activated protein to cells providing light-regulated control of targeted cell pathways. The technology is a popular tool in many fields of neuroscience, used to transiently switch cells on and off, for example, to map neural circuits. In inherited retinal degenerative diseases, where loss of vision results from the loss of photoreceptors, optogenetics can be applied to either augment the function of surviving photoreceptors or confer light sensitivity to naturally nonlight sensitive retinal cells, such as a bipolar cells. This can be achieved either by the light sensitive protein integrating with native internal signaling pathways, or by using a dual function membrane protein that integrates light signaling with an ion channel or pump activity. Exposing treated cells to light of the correct wavelength activates the protein, resulting in cellular depolarization or hyperpolarization that triggers neurological signaling to the visual cortex.
While there is a lot of interest in optogenetics as a pan-disease clinical treatment for end-stage application in the inherited degenerative diseases of the retina, research to date has been limited to nonhuman clinical studies. To address the clinical translational needs of this technology, the Foundation Fighting Blindness and Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary cohosted an International Optogenetic Therapies for Vision Workshop, which was held at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts on June 1, 2012.
optogenetics; vision; retina; gene therapy
To define the retinal pathology in a 91 year-old affected matriarch of a three-generation choroideremia family with multiple manifesting carriers.
Tissue from three different retinal areas was processed for immunohistochemistry. The macular area was processed for transmission electron microscopy. Cryosections were studied by indirect immunofluorescence, using well-characterized antibodies to cone cytoplasm, rhodopsin and cone opsins. The affected donor eyes were compared to a postmortem matched normal eye.
The retina displayed areas of severe degeneration, with no photoreceptor outer segments, photoreceptor nuclear atrophy, and atrophy of the inner retina. Other retinal areas were near to normal. The RPE was severely degenerated, with thinning, pigment clumping and sub-epithelial debris deposition in all the areas examined. The choroid displayed depigmentation. Labeling with cone opsin antibodies revealed that cones were drastically affected: blue opsin was almost completely absent, while red/green opsins were distributed along the entire plasma membrane of the cell. Rhodopsin was also distributed along the entire rod plasma membrane. Ultrastructural analysis of the affected macula revealed the absence of RPE apical microvilli and basal infoldings. Instead, RPE’s basal surface and choroid displayed the presence of banded fibers composed of clumps of wide-spacing collagen. Bruch’s membrane was filled with vesicular structures, some smooth and others with bristle-like projections.
The histological data suggests that the clinical manifestation in this donor is related to degenerative changes in the retina, RPE and choroid.
Choroideremia; carrier state; immunohistochemistry; cone opsins; rhodopsin
We characterize the in vivo changes over time in the retinal structure of wild-type mice alongside two lines of mice deficient in the β-subunit of phosphodiesterase (rd1 and rd10 mice) using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT).
SD-OCT images were obtained using the Bioptigen spectral domain ophthalmic imaging system (SDOIS). Wild-type C57BL/6J, rd1 and rd10 mice ranging in age from P14 to P206 were sedated with 1% isoflurane. Horizontal and vertical linear scans through the optic nerve, and annular scans around the optic nerve were obtained.
SD-OCT imaging of wild-type mice demonstrated visibility of the inner segment/outer segment (IS/OS) junction, external limiting membrane (ELM), outer nuclear layer (ONL), and outer plexiform layer (OPL). At P14, most rd10 mice exhibited normal SD-OCT profiles, but some displayed changes in the IS/OS junction. At the same time point, rd1 mice had severe outer retinal degeneration. In rd10 mice, imaging revealed loss of the IS/OS junction by P18, hyperreflective changes in the ONL at P20, hyperreflective vitreous opacities, and shallow separation of the neural retina from the RPE. Retinal separations were not observed in rd1 mice. Segmentation analysis in wild-type mice demonstrated relatively little variability between animals, while in rd10 and rd1 mice there was a steady decline in outer retinal thickness. Histologic studies demonstrated correlation of retinal features with those seen on SD-OCT scans. Segmentation analysis provides a quantitative and reproducible method for measuring in vivo retinal changes in mice.
SD-OCT provides a non-invasive method of following long-term retinal changes in mice in vivo. Although rd10 and rd1 mice have mutations in the same gene, they demonstrate significantly different features on SD-OCT.
SD-OCT imaging in rd1 and rd10 mice provided quantitative measurements of inner and outer retinal thickness and revealed several previously unreported results including frequent in vivo separation of the retina from the retinal pigment epithelium in the rd10 mouse, but not in the rd1 mouse.
Age related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the elderly population worldwide. While recent studies have demonstrated strong genetic associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms within a number of genes and AMD, other modes of regulation are also likely to play a role in its etiology. We identified a significantly decreased level of methylation on the IL17RC promoter in AMD patients. Further, we showed that hypomethylation of the IL17RC promoter in AMD patients led to an elevated expression of its protein and mRNA in peripheral blood as well as in the affected retina and choroid, suggesting that the DNA methylation pattern and expression of IL17RC may potentially serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis of AMD and likely plays a role in disease pathogenesis.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of incurable visual impairment in high-income countries. Previous studies report inconsistent associations between AMD and apolipoprotein E (APOE), a lipid transport protein involved in low-density cholesterol modulation. Potential interaction between APOE and sex, and smoking status, has been reported. We present a pooled analysis (n=21,160) demonstrating associations between late AMD and APOε4 (OR=0.72 per haplotype; CI: 0.65–0.74; P=4.41×10−11) and APOε2 (OR=1.83 for homozygote carriers; CI: 1.04–3.23; P=0.04), following adjustment for age-group and sex within each study and smoking status. No evidence of interaction between APOE and sex or smoking was found. Ever smokers had significant increased risk relative to never smokers for both neovascular (OR=1.54; CI: 1.38–1.72; P=2.8×10−15) and atrophic (OR=1.38; CI: 1.18–1.61; P=3.37×10−5) AMD but not early AMD (OR=0.94; CI: 0.86–1.03; P=0.16), implicating smoking as a major contributing factor to disease progression from early signs to the visually disabling late forms. Extended haplotype analysis incorporating rs405509 did not identify additional risks beyondε2 and ε4 haplotypes. Our expanded analysis substantially improves our understanding of the association between the APOE locus and AMD. It further provides evidence supporting the role of cholesterol modulation, and low-density cholesterol specifically, in AMD disease etiology.
age-related macular degeneration; AMD; apolipoprotein E; APOE; case-control association study
Variation in the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) has been reported to be associated with longevity in humans. The authors assessed the allelic distribution of APOE isoforms ε2, ε3, and ε4 among 10,623 participants from 15 case-control and cohort studies of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in populations of European ancestry (study dates ranged from 1990 to 2009). The authors included only the 10,623 control subjects from these studies who were classified as having no evidence of AMD, since variation within the APOE gene has previously been associated with AMD. In an analysis stratified by study center, gender, and smoking status, there was a decreasing frequency of the APOE ε4 isoform with increasing age (χ2 for trend = 14.9 (1 df); P = 0.0001), with a concomitant increase in the ε3 isoform (χ2 for trend = 11.3 (1 df); P = 0.001). The association with age was strongest in ε4 homozygotes; the frequency of ε4 homozygosity decreased from 2.7% for participants aged 60 years or less to 0.8% for those over age 85 years, while the proportion of participants with the ε3/ε4 genotype decreased from 26.8% to 17.5% across the same age range. Gender had no significant effect on the isoform frequencies. This study provides strong support for an association of the APOE gene with human longevity.
aged; apolipoprotein E2; apolipoprotein E3; apolipoprotein E4; apolipoproteins E; longevity; meta-analysis; multicenter study
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly in the developed world. We conducted a genome-wide association study in a series of families enriched for AMD and completed a meta-analysis of this new data with results from reanalysis of an existing study of a late-stage case/control cohort. We tested the top findings for replication in 1 896 cases and 1 866 controls and identified two novel genetic protective factors for AMD. In addition to the CFH (p=2.3×10−64) and ARMS2 (p=1.2×10−60) loci, we observed a protective effect at rs429608, an intronic SNP in SKIV2L (p=5.3×10−15), a gene near the C2/BF locus, that indicates the protective effect may be mediated by variants other than the C2/BF variants previously studied. Haplotype analysis at this locus identified three protective haplotypes defined by the rs429608 protective allele. We also identified a new potentially protective effect at rs2679798 in MYRIP (p=2.9×10−4), a gene involved in retinal pigment epithelium melanosome trafficking. Interestingly, MYRIP was initially identified in the family-based scan and was confirmed in the case-control set. From these efforts, we report the identification of two novel protective factors for AMD and confirm the previously known associations at CFH, ARMS2 and C3.
macular degeneration; association testing; melanosome trafficking
Gene and cell therapy holds tremendous promise for treating a variety of acquired and inherited disorders of the retina that impact on vision. Much has been written about the impact of vectors in delivering genes to cells of the retina in vivo. A critically important component of these kinds of therapies is the procedure used to introduce the cells or vectors. Drs. Stout and Francis provide a broad overview of gene and cell therapies for diseases of the retina, focusing on the procedures that could be used for delivery.
Complement factor H shows very strong association with Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), and recent data suggest that multiple causal variants are associated with disease. To refine the location of the disease associated variants, we characterized in detail the structural variation at CFH and its paralogs, including two copy number polymorphisms (CNP), CNP147 and CNP148, and several rare deletions and duplications. Examination of 34 AMD-enriched extended families (N = 293) and AMD cases (White N = 4210 Indian = 134; Malay = 140) and controls (White N = 3229; Indian = 117; Malay = 2390) demonstrated that deletion CNP148 was protective against AMD, independent of SNPs at CFH. Regression analysis of seven common haplotypes showed three haplotypes, H1, H6 and H7, as conferring risk for AMD development. Being the most common haplotype H1 confers the greatest risk by increasing the odds of AMD by 2.75-fold (95% CI = [2.51, 3.01]; p = 8.31×10−109); Caucasian (H6) and Indian-specific (H7) recombinant haplotypes increase the odds of AMD by 1.85-fold (p = 3.52×10−9) and by 15.57-fold (P = 0.007), respectively. We identified a 32-kb region downstream of Y402H (rs1061170), shared by all three risk haplotypes, suggesting that this region may be critical for AMD development. Further analysis showed that two SNPs within the 32 kb block, rs1329428 and rs203687, optimally explain disease association. rs1329428 resides in 20 kb unique sequence block, but rs203687 resides in a 12 kb block that is 89% similar to a noncoding region contained in ΔCNP148. We conclude that causal variation in this region potentially encompasses both regulatory effects at single markers and copy number.
To determine if genotype is associated with rate of growth of geographic atrophy (GA) in eyes with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Prospective analysis of participants in a randomized controlled clinical trial.
114 eyes of 114 participants in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS).
Fundus photographs from AREDS participants with GA from whom a DNA specimen had been obtained and serial photographs had been taken over a minimum of 2 years were evaluated for progression as determined by change in cumulative area of GA. All fundus photographs were scanned, digitized, and centrally graded longitudinally for area of GA. The relationship of GA progression with previously identified genetic variants associated with AMD was assessed.
Main Outcome Measures
Genotype frequencies and change in cumulative area of GA.
The mean growth rate of geographic atrophy for the 114 eyes was 1.79 mm2/year (range= 0.17–4.76 mm2/year). No association between growth rate and genotype was present for variants in the CFH, C2, C3, APOE, and TLR3genes. For the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs10490924 in LOC387715/ARMS2, there was a significant association of GA growth rate, both adjusted and unadjusted for initial lesion size, with the homozygous risk genotype as compared to the homozygous non-risk genotype (unadjusted p-value = 0.002; Bonferroni corrected p-value = 0.014) and for allelic association(Bonferroni corrected p-value = 0.011). Analyses of other measures of geographic atrophy progression (progression to central GA from extrafoveal GA and development of bilateral GA in those initially with unilateral GA) showed no statistically significant association between progression and the LOC387715/ARMS2/HTRA1 genotype.
GA growth rates calculated from digitized serial fundus photographs showed no association with variants in the CFH, C2, C3, APOE, and TLR3 genes. There was a nominally statistically significant association with the LOC387715/ARMS2/HTRA1 genotype, although this finding was not supported by analyses of secondary measures of GA progression. Replication in other populations would be needed to establish the existence of an association.
Medicine & Public Health; Ophthalmology
Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness worldwide. Inherited cataract is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous disease. Here we report a novel mutation in the paired-like homeodomain 3 (PITX3) gene segregating in a four generation English family with an isolated autosomal dominant posterior polar cataract.
A genome-wide linkage was performed by means of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) and microsatellite markers. Linkage analyses were performed with the GeneHunter and MLINK programs. Direct sequencing of PCR products was performed to detect mutation in the gene, using the BigDye version 3.1 and analyzed using Sequence analysis version 5.2.
Genome-wide linkage analysis with SNP markers, identified a disease-haplotype interval on chromosome 10q. Two point positive logarithm of odds (LOD) scores was obtained with markers D10S205 (Z=3.10 at θ=0.00), flanked by markers D10S1709 and D10S543, which harbors the homeobox gene PITX3. Sequence analysis of PITX3 revealed a 1-bp deletion that cosegregated with all the affected members of this family which resulted in a frameshift in codon 181 and likely to produce an aberrant protein consisting of 127 additional residues.
The 542delC is a novel mutation in PITX3 causing an isolated posterior polar cataract.
Transplant chorioretinopathy is a rare complication following solid organ or bone marrow transplantation and can result in severe vision loss. This series presents electroretinogram (ERG) results in patients with this condition.
Patients who presented with bilateral vision loss following bone marrow or solid organ transplantation were identified. A complete ophthalmologic examination, fundus photography, and fluorescein angiography (FA) were performed. Full-field ERG was obtained in all patients and a multifocal ERG (mfERG) was obtained in two patients.
Four patients were identified. All patients had bilateral vision loss and displayed a characteristic pattern of mottled hyperfluorescence on FA. Three patients developed progressive vision loss ranging from 20/60 to hand motions whereas one retained 20/40 vision. All patients exhibited moderate to severe cone dysfunction, while the degree of rod abnormalities was varied. Two patients with severe cone dysfunction showed mild clinical changes initially, but later developed progressive vision loss and chorioretinal atrophy.
Transplant chorioretinopathy patients undergoing ERG testing show cone dysfunction with a variable degree of rod dysfunction. ERG abnormalities preceded the visual acuity and clinical changes in two patients, suggesting that ERG may be a helpful predictor of the clinical course in this rare disease.
transplant; chorioretinopathy; electroretinogram; ERG; mfERG
Cell-based therapy rescues retinal structure and function in rodent models of retinal disease, but translation to clinic will require more information about consequences of transplantation in an eye closely resembling the human eye. Therefore we explored donor cell behavior using human cortical neural progenitor cells (hNPCctx) introduced into the subretinal space of normal rhesus macaques.
hNPCctx transduced with Green Fluorescent Protein (hNPCctx-GFP) were delivered bilaterally into the subretinal space of six normal adult rhesus macaques under conditions paralleling those of the human operating room. Outcome measures included clinical parameters of surgical success, multifocal electroretinogram (mfERG) and histopathological analyses performed between 3 and 39 days post-engraftment. To test the effects of GFP transduction on cell bioactivity, hNPCctx –GFP from the same batch were also injected into RCS rats and compared with non-labeled hNPCctx.
Studies using RCS rats indicated that GFP transduction did not alter the ability of the cells to rescue vision. After cells were introduced into the monkey subretinal space by a pars plana transvitreal approach, the resulting detachment was rapidly resolved and retinal function showed little or no disturbance in mfERG recordings. Retinal structure was unaffected and no signs of inflammation or rejection were seen. Donor cells survived as a single layer in the subretinal space and no cells migrated into the inner retina.
Human neural progenitor cells can be introduced into a primate eye without complication, using an approach that would be suitable for extrapolation to human patients.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a complex multigenic disorder and the most common cause of vision loss in the elderly, is associated with polymorphisms in the LOC387715/ARMS2 and HTRA1 genes on 10q26. Like humans, macaque monkeys possess a macula and develop age-related macular pathologies including drusen, the phenotypic hallmark of AMD. We genotyped a cohort of 137 unrelated rhesus macaques with and without macular drusen. As in humans, one variant within LOC387715/ARMS2 and one in HTRA1 were significantly associated with affected status. HTRA1 and the predicted LOC387715/ARMS2 gene were both transcribed in rhesus and human retina and retinal pigment epithelium. Among several primate species, orthologous exons for the human LOC387715/ARMS2 gene were present only in Old World monkeys and apes. In functional analyses, the disease-associated HTRA1 polymorphism resulted in a 2-fold increase in gene expression, supporting a role in pathogenesis. These results demonstrate that two genes associated with AMD in humans are also associated with macular disease in rhesus macaques and that one of these genes is specific to higher primates. This is the first evidence that humans and macaques share the same genetic susceptibility factors for a common complex disease.
To study the phenotypic characteristics of patients with a novel p.E292K mutation in BEST1.
Affected individuals underwent ophthalmic examination and testing that included photography, autofluorescence, OCT, and electrophysiological testing. DNA was analyzed for BEST1 mutations.
Five patients (aged 5–59) expressing the p.E292K mutation in BEST1 were ascertained from three families. EOG light-rise was subnormal in all probands and carriers. Carriers had normal fundus examination, mfERG, visual acuity, and were emmetropic or myopic. Only probands had hyperopia and fundus findings typical of Best macular dystrophy. OCT of vitelliform lesions demonstrated RPE elevation without subretinal fluid; atrophic lesions exhibited disruption of the hyper-reflective outer retina-RPE complex. Intense hyperautofluorescence correlated to the vitelliform lesion.
Patients with Glu292Lys variation in BEST1 exhibit intra- and interfamilial phenotypic variability. A disproportionate fraction (26%) of Best-disease-causing mutations occur in exon 8, suggesting that the portion of protein encoded by this exon (amino acids 290–316) may be especially important to bestrophin’s function. Relatively good visual acuity with vitelliform lesions can be explained by preservation of the outer retina demonstrated by OCT.
We demonstrate findings that can be seen with novel mutation in this region of BEST1 that carries implications for disease pathogenesis.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a chronic neurodegenerative and neovascular retinal disease, is the leading cause of blindness in elderly people of western European origin. While structural and functional alterations in mitochondria (mt) and their metabolites have been implicated in the pathogenesis of chronic neurodegenerative and vascular diseases, the relationship of inherited variants in the mitochondrial genome and mt haplogroup subtypes with advanced AMD has not been reported in large prospective cohorts.
We examined the relationship of inherited mtDNA variants with advanced AMD in 1168 people using a three-stage design on samples from 12-year and 10-year prospective studies on the natural history of age-related eye disease. In Stage I we resequenced the entire genome in 99 elderly AMD-free controls and 215 people with advanced AMD from the 12-year study. A consistent association with AMD in 14 of 17 SNPs characterizing the mtDNA T haplogroup emerged. Further analysis revealed these associations were driven entirely by the T2 haplogroup, and characterized by two variants in Complex I genes (A11812G of MT-ND4 and A14233G of MT-ND6). We genotyped T haplogroups in an independent sample of 490 cases and 61 controls from the same study (Stage II) and in 56 cases and 246 controls from the 10-year study (Stage III). People in the T2 haplogroup were approximately 2.5 times more likely to have advanced AMD than their peers (odds ratio [OR] = 2.54, 95%CI 1.36–4.80, P≤0.004) after considering the totality of evidence. Findings persisted after considering the impact of AMD-associated variants A69S and Y402H (OR = 5.19, 95%CI 1.19–22.69, P≤0.029).
Loci defining the mtDNA T2 haplogroup and Complex I are reasonable targets for novel functional analyses and therapeutic research in AMD.
Nance-Horan syndrome (NHS) is an X-linked developmental disorder characterized by congenital cataract, dental anomalies, facial dysmorphism and, in some cases, mental retardation. Protein truncation mutations in a novel gene (NHS) have been identified in patients with this syndrome. We previously mapped X-linked congenital cataract (CXN) in one family to an interval on chromosome Xp22.13 which encompasses the NHS locus; however, no mutations were identified in the NHS gene. In this study, we show that NHS and X-linked cataract are allelic diseases. Two CXN families, which were negative for mutations in the NHS gene, were further analysed using array comparative genomic hybridization. CXN was found to be caused by novel copy number variations: a complex duplication–triplication re-arrangement and an intragenic deletion, predicted to result in altered transcriptional regulation of the NHS gene. Furthermore, we also describe the clinical and molecular analysis of seven families diagnosed with NHS, identifying four novel protein truncation mutations and a novel large deletion encompassing the majority of the NHS gene, all leading to no functional protein. We therefore show that different mechanisms, aberrant transcription of the NHS gene or no functional NHS protein, lead to different diseases. Our data highlight the importance of copy number variation and non-recurrent re-arrangements leading to different severity of disease and describe the potential mechanisms involved.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible visual impairment in the developed world. Advanced AMD is comprised of geographic atrophy (GA) and choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Specific genetic variants that predispose for GA are largely unknown.
We tested (i) for association between the functional toll-like receptor-3 (TLR3) variant rs3775291 (L412F) and AMD in European Americans and (ii) the effect of TLR3 L and F variants on the viability of human retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells in vitro and on RPE cell apoptosis in wildtype and Tlr3−/− mice.
The F variant (or T allele at single nucleotide polymorphism at rs3775291) was associated with protection against GA (P=0.005); this association was replicated in two independent GA case-control series (P=5.43×10−4 and P=0.002, respectively. We observed no association between TLR3 variants and CNV. The rs377291 variant is probably critical to the function of TLR3, because a prototypic TLR3 ligand induced cell death and apoptosis in human RPE cells with the LL genotype to a greater extent than it did RPE cells with the LF genotype. Moreover, the ligand induced more RPE cell death and apoptosis in wild-type than in Tlr3−/− mice.
The TLR3 412F variant confers protection against GA, probably by suppressing RPE cell death. Given that double stranded RNA can activate TLR3-mediated apoptosis, our results suggest a possible role for viral dsRNA transcripts in the development of GA and raise awareness of potential toxicity induced by short interfering RNA (siRNA) therapeutics in the eye.
Toll-Like Receptor 3; Age-Related Macular Degeneration; Geographic Atrophy; Single Nucleotide Polymorphism; Apoptosis
To estimate the joint effects of single nucleotide polymorphysms (SNPs) in the genes complement factor H (CFH), HtrA serine peptidase 1 (HTRA1), and age-related maculopathy susceptibility 2 (LOC387715/ARMS2) in a Caucasian age related macular degeneration (AMD) case-control cohort.
We genotyped three SNPs, rs1061170 (exon 9, CFH), rs11200638 (HTRA1 promoter, −512 bp), and rs10490924 (6.6 kb upstream of HTRA1 in LOC387715/ARMS2) in 333 cases with advanced AMD (choroidal neovascularization [CNV] and geographic atrophy) and 171 age-matched examined controls. Association tests were performed for individual SNPs and jointly with the CFH SNP Y402H. Analyses for interaction were also performed.
The linkage disequilibrium measure for two SNPs on 10q26, rs10490924 and rs11200638, is D'=0.8 and all four possible haplotypes of the two SNPs were detected in the samples. The allelic association test for rs11200638 on the promoter of HTRA1 yielded p-values less than 10−10 for geographic atrophy, less than 10−16 for neovascularization, and less than 10−19 for the pooled phenotypes (with an odds ration [OR] of 3.973; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.928, 5.390). Disease risk is conferred in a dosage-dependent fashion. Similar figures were observed for the LOC387715/ARMS2 SNP. No interaction was detected between either between the 10q26 SNPs or the CFH SNP.
This is the first analysis to show that the two 10q26 SNPs are not in complete linkage disequilibrium. Our studies however show that both the HTRA1 and LOC387715/ARMS2 SNP appear to contribute equally to disease risk (both geographic atrophy and choroidal neovascularization) with no evidence of interaction with CFH.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the Western world, is a complex disease that affects people over 50 years old. The complement factor H (CFH) gene has been repeatedly shown to be a major factor in determining susceptibility to the advanced form of the condition. We aimed to better understand the functional role of this gene in the AMD disease process and assess whether it is associated with earlier forms of the disease.
We genotyped SNPs at the CFH gene locus in three independent populations with AMD: (a) extended families where at least 3 family members had AMD; (b) sporadic cases of advanced AMD and (c) cases from the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS). We investigated polymorphisms and haplotypes in and around the CFH gene to assess their role in AMD. CFH is associated with early/intermediate and advanced AMD in both familial and sporadic cases. In our populations, the CFH SNP, rs2274700, is most strongly associated with AMD and when incorporated into a haplotype with the Y402H SNP and rs1061147, the strongest association is observed (p<10−9).
Our results, reproduced in three populations that represent the spectrum of AMD cases, provide evidence that the CFH gene is associated with drusen as well as with advanced AMD. We also identified novel susceptibility and protective haplotypes in the AMD populations.