Enhanced Detection of Sub-Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Layer Deposits in Human and Murine Tissue: Imaging Zinc as a Biomarker for Age-Related Macular Degeneration (An American Ophthalmological Society Thesis)

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PURPOSE: Understanding the apparent paradoxical role of zinc in the pathogenesis and prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) has been limited by the lack of animal models for its detection in sub-retinal epithelial deposits (drusen), a definitive early hallmark of AMD. In-vitro studies using Zinpyr-1 showed drusen contained high levels of zinc, but the probe was not suitable for in-vivo studies. This study compares Zinpyr-1 to ZPP1, a new fluorescein-based probe for zinc, to assess the potential of ZPP1 for in-vivo detection of zinc in drusen.

METHODS: Flat mounts of human sub-RPE tissue using the probes were analyzed by fluorescence and confocal microscopy. Flat mounts of sub-RPE tissue from mice deficient in superoxide dismutase isoform-1 (CuZn-SOD-KO) or isoform-2 (Mn-SOD-RPE-KO) were analyzed with sub-RPE deposits confirmed by histology.

RESULTS: Drusen are detected in greater numbers and intensity with ZPP1 compared to Zinpyr-1. Using ZPP1, drusen was detected in a sample from a 46-year old human donor without ocular history, suggesting that ZPP1 might be sensitive enough to detect drusen at an early stage. With CuZn-SOD KO mice, ZPP1 detected sub-RPE deposits at 10 months of age, whereas Zinpyr-1 required 14 months.

CONCLUSION: Detection of sub-RPE deposits by ZPP1 was greatly enhanced compared to Zinpyr-1. This enhanced sensitivity will allow for more insightful analysis of zinc in AMD using human specimens and mouse models. This could result in the development of a sensitive in-vivo probe to enhance research on the role zinc in drusen formation and the early clinical diagnosis of AMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)T3
JournalTransactions of the American Ophthalmological Society
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


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