Synthesis and propagation of complement C3 by microglia/monocytes in the aging retina

Matt Rutar, Krisztina Valter, Riccardo Natoli, Jan M. Provis

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43 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction: Complement activation is thought to contribute to the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which may be mediated in part by para-inflammatory processes. We aimed to investigate the expression and localization of C3, a crucial component of the complement system, in the retina during the course of aging. Methods: SD rats were born and reared in low-light conditions, and euthanized at post-natal (P) days 100, 450, or 750. Expression of C3, IBA1, and Ccl- and Cxcl- chemokines was assessed by qPCR, and in situ hybridization. Thickness of the ONL was assessed in retinal sections as a measure of photoreceptor loss, and counts were made of C3-expressing monocytes. Results: C3 expression increased significantly at P750, and correlated with thinning of the ONL, at P750, and up-regulation of GFAP. In situ hybridization showed that C3 was expressed by microglia/monocytes, mainly from within the retinal vasculature, and occasionally the ONL. The number of C3-expressing microglia increased significantly by P750, and coincided spatiotemporally with thinning of the ONL, and up-regulation of Ccl- and Cxcl- chemokines. Conclusions: Our data suggest that recruited microglia/monocytes contribute to activation of complement in the aging retina, through local expression of C3 mRNA. C3 expression coincides with age-related thinning of the ONL at P750, although it is unclear whether the C3-expressing monocytes are a cause or consequence. These findings provide evidence of activation of complement during natural aging, and may have relevance to cellular events underling the pathogenesis of age-related retinal diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere93343
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


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