Macular pigment: Quantitative analysis on autofluorescence images

M. Trieschmann, G. Spital, A. Lommatzsch, E. van Kuijk, F. Fitzke, A. C. Bird, D. Pauleikhoff

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Background: Macular pigment (MP) reduces oxidative damage in the central retina and can be quantified by flicker-photometric analysis (HFP) of MP optical density. These analyses demonstrate a very good correlation with central absorption by MP on autofluorescence (AF) images. With these techniques different types of MP-distribution have been described. In the present study a quantification analysis of MP in AF images was developed to verify these MP types and to compare MP distribution patterns between healthy individuals and those with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Methods: AF images (HRA) were analysed with respect to the area of central and paracentral absorption in 400 eyes with a computerised analysis program of MP optical density. The patients were between 41 and 90 years old (mean 67.2 years); 168 were male and 232 female, and 253 had early AMD and 147 showed no AMD characteristics. The central MP concentrations (peak) were measured, the amount of MP values within the first 8-pixel radius ("C"), the total amount of MP within a 120-pixel radius ("T") were calculated as the volume of the MP values over the regarded radius and the C/T ratio was registered. Results: Four types of MP distribution (type 1, intense central and paracentral MP; type 2, less intense central and paracentral MP; type 3, only central MP; type 4, only paracentral MP) were identified. The differences in MP distribution were confirmed and clearly characterised by quantitative analyses of peak, total MP ("T"), central MP ("C") and C/T ratio: mean peak in type 1, 0.65; type 2, 0.42; type 3, 0.42; type 4, 0.29; mean total amount of MP in 120-pixel radius ("T") in type 1, 5829.0; type 2, 4412.5; type 3, 2709; type 4, 4302.8. MP types with lower levels of MP were significantly more often observed in the AMD group (AMD: type 1, 120=47.4%; types 2-4, 133=52.6%; healthy eyes: type 1, 112=76.2%; types 2-4, 35=23.8%) (P<0.0001) Conclusions: Analysis of MP on AF images is a quantitative method for investigation of MP. With this method a wide variation in concentration and distribution of MP could be seen in the population. Four different types of MP distribution could be characterised and quantitatively distinguished. Reduced levels of MP seem to be associated with a higher risk of development of AMD as they were significantly more often observed in the AMD group. This strategy of quantitative MP analysis on AF images is easily practicable and may be used in further studies to investigate the role of MP as a potential risk factor for AMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1006-1012
Number of pages7
JournalGraefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003
Externally publishedYes


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