Examining the Role of Choroidal Blood Flow in AMD
The choroid is the blood vessel network that nourishes the retina, and is a site of AMD. Recent studies suggest that choroidal blood flow is reduced in AMD, and that loss of choroidal blood flow may be an important factor in the initiation and progression of the disease. In this proposal, we will use donor eyes and cutting edge computer modeling and to cellular models to understand whether choroidal blood flow predisposes and contributes to AMD. Insights gleaned from these studies could inspire new diagnostic and therapeutic tools targeting choroidal mechanobiology to improve AMD management.
The overall goal of this project is determine the impact of diminished blood flow in the eye on the development of AMD. The project consists of two specific aims. Our first aim is to test whether AMD pathological hallmarks are preferentially localized to regions of the eye with lower blood flow. To accomplish this, we will utilize human cadaver donor eyes to simulate blood flow in a computer model, and investigate how areas of relatively low or high blood flow relate to early signs of AMD. In the second aim, we will mimic the blood flow in the eye in cells of the retina and blood vessels to determine whether higher or lower blood flow can stimulate or prevent pathways associated with AMD pathology. This proposal is unique in that we will provide an experimental basis for considering how blood flow itself contributes or protects from AMD. We will study these features with unprecedented spatial precision, which will allow us to study AMD on the level of individual vessels and cells. Upon completion of this study, we hope to have confirmed or refuted the concept that AMD pathologies are are directed or "shaped" by the microvasculature, which will open up new vistas for developing new therapies and interventions to prevent, delay, halt, or reverse blindness due to AMD.