In a recent study by Dr. Joanna Sedden and others published in the August 2010 issue of the professional journal, Ophthalmology, it was shown that the presence of a particular protein and genetic variants might make individuals more susceptible to this condition. Genetic variants CFH and ARMS2/HTRA1 gene regions as well as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (CRP) levels were investigated. AMD patients, defined as either having large drusen, geographic atrophy, or neovascular disease of the retina, were examined alongside a control group that showed minimal maculopathy. Serum samples from each subject were taken to measure the levels of CRP, and DNA was also examined to code for the presence of the gene variants in question.
The results show that individuals with AMD are more likely to have higher levels of C-reactive protein, especially for those who are in the advanced stages of the disease. In addition, individuals possessing the genetic variants CFH and ARMS2/HTRA1 were associated with more severe retinal damage. These factors appear to be independent, as CRP was associated with AMD while simultaneously controlling for genotype, and AMD was more prevalent in genetically susceptible individuals (those possessing the particular genetic variants) while CRP levels remained steady.
Although further testing will help us more thoroughly interpret these results, it appears that certain ingrained biological factors contribute to the rise of AMD. CRP protein and particular genetic variants may make individuals more vulnerable to age-related macular degeneration.
Brian Krawitz Staff Writer