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Experimental Eye Research


Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA; 22:6) plays a key role in vision and is the precursor for very-long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (VLC-PUFAs). The release of 32- and 34-carbon VLC-PUFAs and DHA from sn-1 and sn-2 of phosphatidylcholine (PC) leads to the synthesis of cell-survival mediators, the elovanoids (ELVs) and neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), respectively. Macula and periphery from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) donor retinas were assessed for the availability of DHA-related lipids by LC-MS/MS-based lipidomic analysis and MALDI-molecular imaging. We found reduced retina DHA and VLC-PUFA pathways to synthesize omega-3 ELVs from precursors that likely resulted in altered disks and photoreceptor loss. Additionally, we compared omega-3 (n-3) fatty acid with DHA (22:6) and omega-6 (n-6) fatty acid with arachidonic acid (AA; 20:4) pathways. n-3 PC(22:6/22:6, 44:12) and n-6 PC(20:4/20:4, 40:8) showed differences among male/female, macula/periphery, and normal/AMD retinas. Periphery of AMD retina males increased 44:12 abundance, while normal females increased 40:8 (all macula had an upward 40:8 tendency). We also showed that female AMD switched from n-3 to n-6 fatty acids; most changes in AMD occurred in the periphery of female AMD retinas. DHA and VLC-PUFA release from PCs leads to conversion in pro-survival NPD1 and ELVs. The loss of the neuroprotective precursors of ELVs in the retina periphery from AMD facilitates uncompensated stress and cell loss. In AMD, the female retina loses peripheral rods VLC-PUFAs to about 33% less than in males limiting ELV formation and its protective bioactivity.

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