Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Feeding the Retina

White blood cells called macrophages play key role in keeping the eye's retina healthy

03 May 2020

Feeding the Retina

The retina’s light-sensitive cells rely on a network of blood vessels and tissue, called the choroid, to receive the nutrients they need. Damage to the choroid can contribute to the onset of age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. However, what keeps this crucial layer of tissue healthy isn’t fully understood. Recently, researchers found that temporarily removing choroidal macrophages in mice, a type of white blood cell that helps detect and destroy harmful particles, led to extensive damage to not only the choroid but also the retina itself. Compared to a control mouse (retinal cell proteins tagged with fluorescence, left), the team found significant structural and functional damage in the retina of mice lacking healthy choroidal macrophages (right). Interestingly, when macrophages regenerated, this damage was reversed. In future, these specialised white blood cells could hold the key to developing new therapies for preventing age-related disorders of the eye.

Written by Gaëlle Coullon

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