Cholesterol and AMD may share the same fight
Wednesday, April 10 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
Drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol may be effective against macular degeneration.
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have found that patients with AMD and those with atherosclerosis share an inability to get rid of fat and cholesterol. In patients with the “dry” form of AMD, lipid deposits accumulate behind the retina. As they grow and multiply, they begin to destroy the central part of the eye, interfering with vision.
As we age, our macrophages, the immune cells that destroy cholesterol and fat, begin to malfunction. They can even become bloated with cholesterol, causing inflammation, which triggers vascularization. Those vessels characterize the “wet” form of AMD.
The researchers treated the macrophages of mice with a substance that helped restore levels of ABCA1, a protein that macrophages need to do their job. The macular degeneration process was reversed.
“Some of the therapies already being used to treat atherosclerosis target this same pathway, so we may be able to modify drugs that already are available and use them to deliver treatment to the eye,” says lead researcher Rajendra S. Apte.