A new study from the University of Southampton suggests that variations in genes involved in inflammation may be a possible clue to degenerative eye disease.
Age-related Macular Degeneration, (AMD) affects the
centre of the retina (macula) at the back of the eye, which is used for fine central vision tasks, such as reading and driving.
The researchers conducted the study by using the DNA
samples from 478 people with AMD and 555 people with no signs of the disease
aged over 55 and searched evidence of four variations in genes controlling the
production and suppression of cytokines - powerful chemicals involved in
inflammatory processes in the body.
The findings revealed that genetic variants 251A/T
related to the gene that boosts production of the cytokine interleukin 8, or
IL-8 was more common among the patients with AMD.
The IL-8 251A/T genetic variation has been previously
linked to several inflammatory diseases and cancer.
The authors suggest their findings might lead to the
possibility of genetic screening for AMD and the development of biological
agents to control it if repeated in larger studies.
The research is published ahead of print in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.