The Role of "Good Cholesterol" in AMD

Chi Luu, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia (East Melbourne, Australia)

Co-Principal Investigators

Robyn Guymer, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia (East Melbourne, Australia)
Gregory Dusting, PhD
Centre for Eye Research Australia (East Melbourne, Australia)
Year Awarded:
Grant Duration:
July 1, 2018 to March 31, 2021
Macular Degeneration
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Chi Luu, PhD

Reconstituted High Density Lipoprotein (rHDL) for the Treatment of Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)


The protective properties of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), “good cholesterol”, have been studied extensively in cardiovascular conditions. Chronic inflammation modifies HDL (to dysfunctional HDL) and impairs its positive functional properties such as anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. Restoring HDL function has been shown to inhibit inflammation and oxidative stress, and in turn, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases in humans. Given that age-related macular degeneration (AMD), an eye condition that causes the loss of central vision, and cardiovascular disease share many common risk factors, we hypothesized that HDL functionality has a role in the development and progression of AMD. The overall aim of this research project is to explore the role and therapeutic benefit of HDL in AMD.


The role of HDL in the development and progression of AMD is unknown. This study will address this important knowledge gap and will potentially change our understanding of the role of HDL on the pathogenesis of AMD. To examine the role of HDL in AMD, we will collect blood from AMD and age-matched healthy subjects. Using the blood collected we will assess various HDL properties including anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity. We anticipate that the HDL function is compromised in subjects with AMD.

We will also investigate whether AMD can be treated with a reconstituted form of good cholesterol. We will address this question by determining whether reconstituted HDL will improve the structure and function of the retina in a preclinical model of AMD.

The findings from this project will pave the way for the development of new therapies for the management of the earliest changes in AMD to prevent vision loss. There are no treatment options currently available for the early stages of AMD to prevent its progression to vision loss.

About the Researcher

Associate Professor Chi Luu is currently Deputy Head of the Macular Research Unit at the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA), and a Principal Research Fellow at the Department of Surgery (Ophthalmology), University of Melbourne. He conducts both clinical and basic research in retinal diseases, particularly in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). His main research interest is investigating novel approaches for detecting, monitoring and treating AMD and he has published extensively in these areas. 

Personal Story

The role of cholesterol in the development and progression of AMD is not well understood and will be addressed in this research study. I am extremely grateful for the support from generous donors at BrightFocus Foundation for this innovative research project, which could potentially have a direct impact on the future treatment and management of AMD.

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