A key finding by experts in the US may lead to a new treatment being developed for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the leading causes of blindness in the western world.
The development of the disease can involve an over-proliferation of the blood vessels that supply the retina, with cholesterol-rich lesions known to occur during the progression of the disease, but the link between cholesterol metabolism and AMD has so far been unclear.
In a new study, Irina Pikuleva and her team at Case Western University investigated the effect of loss of CYP27A1, an enzyme involved in the processing of cholesterol, on eye physiology.
They found that the mice studied had increased cholesterol biosynthesis in the retina, and that this promoted neovascularisation.
According to the experts, this in part explains the connection between cholesterol deposits and blood vessel overgrowth, and that the new report may be useful in the development of therapeutic strategies to target the disease.