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International Journal of Inflammation
Volume 2013, Article ID 348092, 10 pages
Review Article

The Role of the Immune Response in Age-Related Macular Degeneration

1Allergan, Inc., 2525 Dupont Drive, Irvine, CA 92612, USA
2The Wilmer Eye Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA
3Division of Rheumatology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
4Division of Rheumatology, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO 80045, USA
5Department of Ophthalmology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA
6School of Clinical Sciences and School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Bristol and Bristol Eye Hospital and NIHR, Bristol BS1 2LX, UK
7Biomedical Research Centre at Moorfields Eye Hospital, NHS Foundation Trust, and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London EC1V 2PD, UK

Received 7 March 2013; Accepted 9 April 2013

Academic Editor: Robert B. Nussenblatt

Copyright © 2013 Scott M. Whitcup et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in developed countries; with the aging population, the negative health impacts and costs of the disease will increase dramatically over the next decade. Although the exact cause of AMD is unknown, genetic studies have implicated the complement system as well as other immune responses in disease pathogenesis and severity. Furthermore, histologic studies have shown the presence of macrophages, lymphocytes, and mast cells, as well as fibroblasts, in both atrophic lesions and with retinal neovascularization. This review summarizes discussions from the fifth annual conference of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Initiative for Macular Research by the Inflammation and Immune Response Task Force. These deliberations focused on the role of inflammatory immune responses, including complement, inflammasomes, adaptive immune responses, and para-inflammation, unanswered questions and studies to address these questions, and potential immune-related therapeutic targets for AMD.