Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Feb 7;24(4):3252. doi: 10.3390/ijms24043252.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness in elderly people, with limited treatment options available for most patients. AMD involves the death of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and photoreceptor cells, with mitochondria dysfunction being a critical early event. In the current study, we utilized our unique resource of human donor RPE graded for AMD presence and severity to investigate proteome-wide dysregulation involved in early AMD. Organelle-enriched fractions of RPE were isolated from donors with early AMD (n = 45) and healthy age-matched controls (n = 32) and were analyzed by UHR-IonStar, an integrated proteomics platform enabling reliable and in-depth proteomic quantification in large cohorts. A total of 5941 proteins were quantified with excellent analytical reproducibility, and with further informatics analysis, many biological functions and pathways were found to be significantly dysregulated in donor RPE samples with early AMD. Several of these directly pinpointed changes in mitochondrial functions, e.g., translation, ATP metabolic process, lipid homeostasis, and oxidative stress. These novel findings highlighted the value of our proteomics investigation by allowing a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying early AMD onset and facilitating both treatment development and biomarker discovery.