Age-related macular degeneration: A disease of extracellular complement amplification

Sarah de Jong, Jiaqi Tang, Simon J Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of vision impairment in the Western World, and with the aging world population, its incidence is increasing. As of today, for the majority of patients, no treatment exists. Multiple genetic and biochemical studies have shown a strong association with components in the complement system and AMD, and evidence suggests a major role of remodeling of the extracellular matrix underlying the outer blood/retinal barrier. As part of the innate immune system, the complement cascade acts as a first-line defense against pathogens, and upon activation, its amplification loop ensures a strong, rapid, and sustained response. Excessive activation, however, can lead to host tissue damage and cause complement-associated diseases like AMD. AMD patients present with aberrant activation of the alternative pathway, especially in ocular tissues but also on a systemic level. Here, we review the latest findings of complement activation in AMD, and we will discuss in vivo observations made in human tissue, cellular models, the potential synergy of different AMD-associated pathways, and conclude on current clinical trials and the future outlook.

Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunological reviews
Early online date12 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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