High concentration of zinc in sub-retinal pigment epithelial deposits

Imre Lengyel*, Jane M. Flinn, Tünde Peto, David H. Linkous, Katherine Cano, Alan C. Bird, Antonio Lanzirotti, Christopher J. Frederickson, Frederik J G M van Kuijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Citations (Scopus)


One of the hallmarks of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the elderly in Western societies, is the accumulation of sub-retinal pigment epithelial deposits (sub-RPE deposits), including drusen and basal laminar deposits, in Bruch's membrane (BM). The nature and the underlying mechanisms of this deposit formation are not fully understood. Because we know that zinc contributes to deposit formation in neurodegenerative diseases, we tested the hypothesis that zinc might be involved in deposit formation in AMD. Using zinc specific fluorescent probes and microprobe synchrotron X-ray fluorescence we showed that sub-RPE deposits in post-mortem human tissues contain unexpectedly high concentrations of zinc, including abundant bio-available (ionic and/or loosely protein bound) ions. Zinc accumulation was especially high in the maculae of eyes with AMD. Internal deposit structures are especially enriched in bio-available zinc. Based on the evidence provided here we suggest that zinc plays a role in sub-RPE deposit formation in the aging human eye and possibly also in the development and/or progression of AMD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-780
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • age-related macular degeneration
  • Bruch's membrane
  • complement factor H
  • drusen
  • retinal pigment epithelium
  • sub-RPE deposit
  • trace element
  • zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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