The oil spill in ageing Bruch membrane

Christine A. Curcio*, Mark Johnson, Martin Rudolf, Jiahn Dar Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Ageing is the largest risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and soft drusen and basal linear deposits are lipid-rich extracellular lesions specific to AMD. Oil red O binding neutral lipid represents a major age-related deposition in the Bruch membrane (BrM) and the first identified druse component. Decades after these seminal observations, a natural history of neutral lipid deposition has been articulated and a biochemical model proposed. Results obtained with multiple biochemical, histochemical, and ultrastructural methods, and supported indirectly by epidemiology, suggest that the RPE secretes apolipoprotein B (apoB)-lipoprotein particles of unusual composition into BrM, where they accumulate with age eventually forming a lipid wall, a precursor of basal linear deposit. The authors propose that constituents of these lesions interact with reactive oxygen species to form pro-inflammatory peroxidised lipids that elicit neovascularisation. Here, the authors summarise key evidence supporting both accumulation of BrM lipoproteins leading to lesion formation and lipoprotein production by the RPE. The authors update their model with genetic associations between AMD and genes historically associated with plasma HDL metabolism, and suggest future directions for research and therapeutic strategies based on an oil-spill analogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1638-1645
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Ophthalmology


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