PURPOSE. Our previous study demonstrated significantly more degranulating mast cells (MCs) in choroids from subjects with age-related macular degeneration compared to aged controls. This study examined the immunolocalization of tryptase, the most abundant MC secretory granule-derived serine protease, in aged control eyes and eyes with geographic atrophy (GA). METHODS. Postmortem human eyes with and without GA were obtained from the National Disease Research Interchange. Tissue was fixed, cryopreserved, sectioned, and immunostained with a monoclonal antibody against tryptase. Sections were imaged on a Zeiss 710 Confocal Microscope. RESULTS. In the posterior pole of all aged control eyes, tryptase was confined to choroidal MCs, which were located primarily in Sattler’s layer. In eyes with GA, many MCs were located in the inner choroid near choriocapillaris and Bruch’s membrane (BM). Tryptase was found not only in MCs but also diffusely around them in stroma, suggesting they had degranulated. In contrast with aged control eyes, eyes with GA also had strong tryptase staining in BM. Tryptase was observed within BM in regions of RPE atrophy, at the border of atrophy, and extending well into the nonatrophic region. CONCLUSIONS. Our results demonstrate that tryptase, released during choroidal MC degranulation, binds to BM in GA in advance of RPE atrophy. Tryptase activates MMPs that can degrade extracellular matrix (ECM) and basement membrane components found in BM. ECM modifications are likely to have a profound effect on the function and health of RPE and choroidal thinning in GA.
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Bruch’s membrane
- Geographic atrophy
- Mast cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sensory Systems
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience