Understanding Vascular Pathology of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Gerard A. Lutty, PhD, Director, Ocular Vasculogenesis and Angiogenesis Laboratory and Professor of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in Americans over the age of 50 and involves the degeneration of the small, central portion of the retina, known as the macula. The cause of AMD is largely unknown and so it is critical to understand the pathogenesis of the disease to develop new prevention or therapeutic strategies.

lutty microscope

lutty microscope

Gerard Lutty, PhD, a professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and his team are investigating the changes that occur in the choroidal vasculature following AMD. Loss of blood vessel supply to the retina can result in death of retinal cells and contribute to disease progression. Dr. Lutty’s group has evaluated the loss of the small choroidal capillaries (choriocapillaris) in AMD using human donor tissue. They have found that choriocapillaris die early on in wet AMD, making the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) hypoxic and a source of VEGF. In geographic atrophy, a form of dry AMD, the RPE die first and then the choriocapillaris. The goal of this work is to develop therapies for AMD that would stop the loss of these blood vessels in the affected area.

In addition to AMD, Dr. Lutty’s group studies the development of blood vessels in the eye and how they are impacted in other ocular diseases, such as diabetic and sickle cell retinopathies.

Recent Publications

Seddon J, et al. (2016) Histopathological Insights into Choroidal Vascular Loss in Clinically Documented Cases of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA Ophthalmol 134:1272-1280.

Rodrigues M, et al. (2016) Expression of HIF1 and VEGF supports circumferential application of scatter laser for proliferative sickle cell retinopathy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci:57:6739-6746.

McLeod DS, et al. (2016) Distribution and Quantification of Choroidal Macrophages in Human Eyes with Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 57:5843-5844.

Edwards MM, et al. (2017) Subretinal glial membranes in eyes with Geographic Atrophy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 58:1352-1367.

"I could not continue in science without the services provided by NDRI. The human eyes we purchase from NDRI are the backbone of our research into the etiology of diabetic and sickle cell retinopathy as well as age-related macular degeneration. The human eyes we have received have resulted in more then 30 manuscripts from my lab."

-Gerard A. Lutty, PhD, Director, Ocular Vasculogenesis and Angiogenesis Laboratory and Professor of Ophthalmology, Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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