Department of Ophthalmology

2010 Research Accomplishments

(15 MD’s; 9 PhD’s; 2 other; 50 publications; 11 book chapters distributed in 6 books)

Significant Scientific Accomplishments
We continue to expand our understanding of how interactions between retinal metabolism, environmental stress and genetic mutations lead to blindness through 3 major research areas.

  • Using mass spectrometry, we are determining the abundance and spatial distribution of vitamin A metabolites in the retina and their relationship to vision loss in Age-related macular degeneration (AMD).  Our studies have shown that the phototoxic metabolite, A2E thought to participate in the pathogenesis of AMD is not detectable in the macula, and therefore does not contribute to AMD.  We are currently measuring the various metabolic products within the retinas of human eyes and their relationship to vision loss in AMD and normal aging.
  • Glaucoma studies in glaucomatous models have provided the first evidence that opioid-receptor stimulation can significantly limit injury to the optic nerve and retina.  This protective response is related to the suppression of inflammatory events within the optic nerve.
  • Complement and Retinal Degeneration studies have found that oxidative stress sensitizes the retinal pigment epithelium to complement attack by reducing the levels of membrane-bound endogenous inhibitors of this signaling pathway.  Once activated, the compliment system can then lead to the release of endogenous factors (e.g., VEGF) that participate in the development of both dry and wet forms of AMD.
Drs. Fan and Kono working at the confocal microscope.
 View research photos from 2010

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