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Compositional studies of human RPE lipofuscin



Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an ocular disease that causes visual loss and legal blindness in the elderly population. The etiology of AMD is complex and may include genetic predispositions, accumulation of lipofuscin and drusen, local inflammation and neovascularization. The accumulation of lipofuscin has been shown to precede the death of photoreceptor cells and the deterioration of the RPE. As a result, the determination of the photosensitive components of lipofuscin has been of major interest. One of these components, previously identified as a bis-retinoid pyridinium compound, is referred to as A2E. A2E has been characterized by mass spectrometry and is known to have a mass of 592 Da. Most remaining chromophores in RPE lipofuscin are structurally related to A2E as determined by their fragmentation pattern with losses of M ± 190, 174 and/or 150 Da. Analysis of lipofuscin from various donors indicated that the extracts consist of as many as 15 of these hydrophobic components, which are also observed to form spontaneously in vitro over extended periods of time. These consist of ca 90% of the A2E-like components in RPE lipofuscin and correspond to derivatized A2E with discrete molecular weights of 800–900 m/z, 970–1080 m/z and above 1200 m/z regions. It was determined that these species are formed from self-reaction of A2E oxidation products or their reaction with A2E itself to form higher molecular weight products. The majority of modifications are much more hydrophobic than A2E and exhibit increasingly higher values of log P. This acts as a driving force for the sequestering of A2E into granules resulting in a concomitant diminution of its reactivity in vivo. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.