Molecular vision

CFH Y402H polymorphism is associated with elevated vitreal GM-CSF and choroidal macrophages in the postmortem human eye.

PMID 25814824


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in people 50 years of age or older in developed countries. The homozygous CC genotype in the complement factor H (CFH) Y402H single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; rs1061170) is widely recognized as a risk factor for the development of AMD. In this study, we examined vitreal levels of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), a hematopoietic cytokine, and macrophages in the choroid of postmortem human eyes genotyped for the CFH Y402H SNP. Twenty-two pairs of postmortem, non-diseased, human donor eyes were obtained. The vitreous and retinal tissues of the left eyes were collected for GM-CSF level measurement and CFH Y402H genotyping, respectively. The right eyes were paraffin-embedded and sectioned for immunohistochemistry using a macrophage and microglia marker, CD68. Cell cultures of RPE cells were stimulated with complement C3a, C5a, 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE), or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and GM-CSF expression was measured with a suspension assay or quantitative PCR. Eyes genotyped with the CC or the CT risk variant of the CFH Y402H SNP showed significantly increased levels of GM-CSF in the vitreous compared to eyes with the protective TT variant (mean ± standard error of mean, 607.54±85.83 pg/ml or 656.32±15.20 pg/ml versus 286.69±81.96 pg/ml, p<0.05). The choroid of eye tissues genotyped with the CC variant showed higher levels of CD68 immunoreactivity than the tissues genotyped with the TT variant (p<0.05). The GM-CSF levels detected in the supernatant of RPE cells in culture treated with HNE or TNF-α were significantly higher compared to the non-treated control (145.88±5.06 pg/ml and 149.32±3.76 pg/ml versus 123.27±4.05 pg/ml, p<0.05). Furthermore, the gene expression of GM-CSF detected in the lysate of RPE cells stimulated with complement C3a or C5a showed significantly increased fold changes compared to the non-treated control (C3a: 2.38±0.31 fold, p<0.05; C5a: 2.84±0.54 fold, p<0.01). Our data showed a relationship between the CFH Y402H polymorphism and GM-CSF levels in the vitreous and accumulation of choroidal macrophages in the postmortem eye. These data suggest that the at-risk variant of the CFH gene may contribute to the dysregulation of proinflammatory cytokines locally in the eye.