Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2023 Jul 3;64(10):26. doi: 10.1167/iovs.64.10.26.
PURPOSE: Early and intermediate non-neovascular AMD (NN-AMD) has the potential to progress to either advanced NN-AMD with geographic atrophy, or to neovascular AMD (N-AMD) with CNV. This exploratory study performed an unbiased analysis of aqueous humor transcriptome in patients with early or intermediate NN-AMD vs. treatment-naïve N-AMD to determine the feasibility of using this method in future studies investigating pathways and triggers for conversion from one form to another.
METHODS: Aqueous humor samples were obtained from 20 patients with early or intermediate NN-AMD and 20 patients with untreated N-AMD, graded on clinical examination and optical coherence tomography. Transcriptome profiles were generated using next-generation sequencing methods optimized for ocular samples. Top-ranked transcripts were compared between groups, and pathway enrichment analysis was performed.
RESULTS: Seventy-eight differentially expressed transcripts were identified. Unsupervised clustering of differentially expressed transcripts was able to successfully differentiate between the two groups based on aqueous transcriptome alone. Pathway analysis highlighted changes in expression of genes associated with mitochondrial respiration, oxidative stress, ubiquitination, and neurogenesis between the two groups.
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study compared the aqueous fluid transcriptome of patients with early or intermediate NN-AMD and untreated N-AMD. Differences in transcripts and transcriptome pathways identified in the aqueous of patients with early or intermediate NN-AMD compared with patients with N-AMD are consistent with those previously implicated in the pathogenesis of these distinct AMD subtypes. The findings from this exploratory study warrant further investigation using a larger, prospective study design, with the inclusion of a control group of eyes without AMD.