Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness in industrialized countries. There are two clinical forms of AMD: a ‘dry' form (termed geographic atrophy). To date, there are only effective therapeutic interventions for ‘wet AMD'.
CD36, a multiligand receptor, is expressed on retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), microvascular endothelium cell (EC), and to a greater extent on macrophages. CD36 is involved in various functions:
(1) Cellular energy uptake by acting as a long chain fatty acid receptor;
(2) Uptake of oxidized lipoproteins;
(3) Phagocytosis of retinal outer segment - essential to recycle spent photoreceptor disks;
(4) In modulating inflammatory response and oxidative stress and;
(5) In angiogenesis.
Collectively, the properties of CD36 are aligned with factors implicated in the genesis of dry AMD, and correspondingly the negative modulatory effect of CD36 should postpone the progression of the disease.