In industrialized countries macular degeneration is the most common cause for blindness in age related loss of vision. Scientists from Great Britain and Germany now showed that the age related macular degeneration is due to a hyperactivity of the immune system in advanced years. Inherited disfunction of the immune system can be the cause. In Germany approximately 4.5 million patients suffer from macular degeneration disabling them in the long term to manage their daily lives.

 

Important part of the immune system involved


The study tested the assumption that the complement system of our immune system plays a key role. The complement system is involved in regulation of inflammatory reactions of our immune systems.
The scientists looked for proteins which indicate an activation of the complement system in 112 patients with age related macular degeneration and 67 healthy patients. In the 112 concerned patients a higher concentration of proteins typical for an hyperactivation of the complement system was found. These proteins are present in the blood and thus in the whole body. This leads to a permanent below threshold inflammatory condition in the body leading in the long term to the irreversible damage of the macular. If the patients get older it eventually will lead to a loss of vision.

 

This new mosaic in understanding the age related macular degeneration is an important step for physicians towards a therapy of a cureless and tragic eye disease.

 


Source:
- Hendrik et al.
 (2008) "Systemic Complement Activation in Age-Related Macular Degeneration". Plos. 10.1371

 

- idw-online.de