Role of retinal amyloid-β in neurodegenerative diseases: Overlapping mechanisms and emerging clinical applications

Liang Wang, Xiaobo Mao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulations have been identified in the retina for neurodegenera-tion-associated disorders like Alzheimer’s disease (AD), glaucoma, and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Elevated retinal Aβ levels were associated with progressive retinal neuro-degeneration, elevated cerebral Aβ accumulation, and increased disease severity with a decline in cognition and vision. Retinal Aβ accumulation and its pathological effects were demonstrated to occur prior to irreversible neurodegeneration, which highlights its potential in early disease detection and intervention. Using the retina as a model of the brain, recent studies have focused on characterizing retinal Aβ to determine its applicability for population-based screening of AD, which warrants a further understanding of how Aβ manifests between these disorders. While current treatments directly targeting Aβ accumulations have had limited results, continued ex-ploration of Aβ-associated pathological pathways may yield new therapeutic targets for preserving cognition and vision. Here, we provide a review on the role of retinal Aβ manifestations in these distinct neurodegeneration-associated disorders. We also discuss the recent applications of retinal Aβ for AD screening and current clinical trial outcomes for Aβ-associated treatment approaches. Lastly, we explore potential future therapeutic targets based on overlapping mechanisms of pathophysiology in AD, glaucoma, and AMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2360
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyloid-β
  • Glaucoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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