The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: The role of IgG Fc receptors in the pathogenesis of age related macular degeneration and its implications for therapeutic intervention.

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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 55 or over. The cause of the disease is not known, but strong evidence suggests a role of inflammation as a trigger of retinal damage. This project further investigates the role of humoral immunity and macrophage activation in AMD.

Project Overview

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in people aged 55 or over. In AMD, the cells of the retina become damaged due to increased accumulation of extracellular deposits, or drusen, and/or increased formation of blood vessels behind the retina. The cause of the disease is not known, but strong evidence suggests a role of inflammation as a trigger of retinal damage.
This study will investigate if and how auto-antibodies and immune complexes play a role in the disease. Immune complexes, formed when antibodies bind to their antigen, are generally damaging to the host. Antibodies operate via specialised receptors called Fc receptors (FcγRs), expressed on macrophages and microglia and binding of antibody complexes to these receptors can stimulate macrophages to release toxic inflammatory molecules that can contribute to tissue damage. We will use a novel model that shows many characteristics of human AMD but with a much faster onset. We will investigate the relative expression levels of different FcγRs in the healthy eye and how these change during disease. We will generate a second model where we delete FcγRs and investigate if disease progression is suppressed. These studies will be complemented by in vitro studies where we test if antibodies from AMD patients show a similar effect on retinal damage. These studies will lead to better understanding of the immunological mechanisms in the eye, hopefully leading to novel or better treatments for AMD.

Funding

This work is funded by a Fight-for Sight PhD studentship (2010-2013).

Supervisors

This project is supervised by Dr Jessica Teeling, Prof Andrew Lotery and Prof Hugh Perry.

Related research groups

Biomedical Sciences

Staff

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