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REVIEW: Changes in Retinal Glial Cells with Age and during Development of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

D. V. Telegina1, O. S. Kozhevnikova1, and N. G. Kolosova1,a*

1Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 630090 Novosibirsk, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received March 27, 2018; Revision received May 8, 2018
Age is the major risk factor in the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) which is a complex multifactor neurodegenerative disease of the retina and the main cause of irreversible vision loss in people over 60 years old. The major role in AMD pathogenesis belongs to structure-functional changes in the retinal pigment epithelium cells, while the onset and progression of AMD are commonly believed to be caused by the immune system dysfunctions. The role of retinal glial cells (Muller cells, astrocytes, and microglia) in AMD pathogenesis is studied much less. These cells maintain neurons and retinal vessels through the synthesis of neurotrophic and angiogenic factors, as well as perform supporting, separating, trophic, secretory, and immune functions. It is known that retinal glia experiences morphological and functional changes with age. Age-related impairments in the functional activity of glial cells are closely related to the changes in the expression of trophic factors that affect the status of all cell types in the retina. In this review, we summarized available literature data on the role of retinal macro- and microglia and on the contribution of these cells to AMD pathogenesis.
KEY WORDS: aging, retina, age-related macular degeneration, astrocytes, Muller cells, microglia

DOI: 10.1134/S000629791809002X