Cigarette smoke-related oxidants and the development of sub-RPE deposits in an experimental animal model of dry AMD

Diego G. Espinosa-Heidmann, Ivan J. Suner, Paola Catanuto, Eleut P. Hernandez, Maria E. Marin-Castano, Scott W. Cousins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Oxidative injury to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) has been proposed to be an important injury stimulus relevant to the accumulation of subretinal deposits in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor for AMD, and cigarette smoke-related tar contains high concentrations of a potent oxidant, hydroquinone (HQ). This study was an investigation of the effects of cigarette smoke (CS) and HQ in the development of sub-RPE deposits in an experimental mouse model. METHODS. Sixteen-month-old C57BL/6 female mice were fed a high-fat diet (HFD) for 4.5 months. Mice were divided into two major experimental groups, one to examine the effects of cigarette smoke and one to study the effects of a defined cigarette smoke component such as HQ. In the first group, mice eyes were exposed to blue-green light (positive controls) or to whole cigarette smoke. A third group with no intervention served as the negative control. In the second experimental group, animals received a purified diet with HQ (0.8%) with low or high fat content for 4.5 months. Mice in both groups were euthanatized at 4.5 months and eyes processed for transmission electron microscopy. RESULTS. As previously demonstrated by our laboratory and others, most mice fed an HFD without other oxidant exposure demonstrated normal morphology or, in a few cases, small nodular basal laminar deposits. Eyes of mice exposed to whole cigarette smoke or to HQ in the food demonstrated a variable degree of basal laminar deposits and diffusely thickened Bruch's membrane. The choriocapillaris endothelium was variably hypertrophic. CONCLUSIONS. Exposure to cigarette smoke or the smoke-related redox molecule, HQ, results in the formation of sub-RPE deposits, thickening of Bruch's membrane, and accumulation of deposits within Bruch's membrane. Smoke-related oxidants may be another oxidative injury stimulus to the choriocapillaris and RPE, and may explain the association between cigarette smoking and early AMD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)729-737
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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