The accumulation of lipids within drusen, the epidemiologic link of a high fat diet, and the identification of polymorphisms in genes involved in lipid metabolism that are associated with disease risk, have prompted interest in the role of lipid abnormalities in AMD. Despite intensive investigation, our understanding of how lipid abnormalities contribute to AMD development remains unclear. Lipid metabolism is tightly regulated, and its dysregulation can trigger excess lipid accumulation within the RPE and Bruch's membrane. The high oxidative stress environment of the macula can promote lipid oxidation, impairing their original function as well as producing oxidation-specific epitopes (OSE), which unless neutralized, can induce unwanted inflammation that additionally contributes to AMD progression. Considering the multiple layers of lipid metabolism and inflammation, and the ability to simultaneously target multiple pathways, microRNA (miRNAs) have emerged as important regulators of many age-related diseases including atherosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. These diseases have similar etiologic characteristics such as lipid-rich deposits, oxidative stress, and inflammation with AMD, which suggests that miRNAs might influence lipid metabolism in AMD. In this review, we discuss the contribution of lipids to AMD pathobiology and introduce how miRNAs might affect lipid metabolism during lesion development. Establishing how miRNAs contribute to lipid accumulation in AMD will help to define the role of lipids in AMD, and open new treatment avenues for this enigmatic disease.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Oxidative stress
- Retinal pigmented epithelium
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience