Retina and RPE lipid profile changes linked with ABCA4 associated Stargardt's maculopathy

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Pharmacology and Therapeutics


Stargardt maculopathy, caused predominantly by mutations in the ABCA4 gene, is characterized by an accumulation of non-degradable visual pigment derivative, lipofuscin, in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) - resulting in RPE atrophy. RPE is a monolayer tissue located adjacent to retinal photoreceptors and regulates their health and functioning; RPE atrophy triggers photoreceptor cell death and vision loss in Stargardt patients. Previously, ABCA4 mutations in photoreceptors were thought to be the major contributor to lipid homeostasis defects in the eye. Recently, we demonstrated that ABCA4 loss of function in the RPE leads to cell-autonomous lipid homeostasis defects. Our work underscores that an incomplete understanding of lipid metabolism and lipid-mediated signaling in the retina and RPE are potential causes for lacking treatments for this disease. Here we report altered lipidomic in mouse and human Stargardt models. This work provides the basis for therapeutics that aim to restore lipid homeostasis in the retina and the RPE.

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