A Re-Appraisal of Pathogenic Mechanisms Bridging Wet and Dry Age-Related Macular Degeneration Leads to Reconsider a Role for Phytochemicals

Roberto Pinelli, Francesca Biagioni, Fiona Limanaqi, Miorica Bertelli, Elena Scaffidi, Maico Polzella, Carla Letizia Busceti, Francesco Fornai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Which pathogenic mechanisms underlie age-related macular degeneration (AMD)? Are they different for dry and wet variants, or do they stem from common metabolic alterations? Where shall we look for altered metabolism? Is it the inner choroid, or is it rather the choroid-retinal border? Again, since cell-clearing pathways are crucial to degrade altered proteins, which metabolic system is likely to be the most implicated, and in which cell type? Here we describe the unique clearing activity of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and the relevant role of its autophagy machinery in removing altered debris, thus centering the RPE in the pathogenesis of AMD. The cell-clearing systems within the RPE may act as a kernel to regulate the redox homeostasis and the traffic of multiple proteins and organelles toward either the choroid border or the outer segments of photoreceptors. This is expected to cope with the polarity of various domains within RPE cells, with each one owning a specific metabolic activity. A defective clearance machinery may trigger unconventional solutions to avoid intracellular substrates' accumulation through unconventional secretions. These components may be deposited between the RPE and Bruch's membrane, thus generating the drusen, which remains the classic hallmark of AMD. These deposits may rather represent a witness of an abnormal RPE metabolism than a real pathogenic component. The empowerment of cell clearance, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-angiogenic activity of the RPE by specific phytochemicals is here discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Volume21
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 3 2020

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