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School of Health Sciences

How does an aging RP retina look

Supervisors

1st supervisor: Dr Tamsin Callaghan

2nd supervisor: Dr Michael Powner

Research Centres

Applied Vision Research

Project description

The aetiology of both age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) have been linked to hypoxia and the creation of reactive oxygen species, ultimately leading to the same result; photoreceptor death and vision loss, but through very different pathogenesis’.

It has been proposed that one risk factor of AMD is thickening of Bruch’s membrane with increasing age. As the retina is on a hypoxic knife edge under dark adapted conditions, this thickening impedes an already limited oxygen delivery to the outer retina and potential photoreceptor death may follow if oxygen availability drops sufficiently. The inverse is proposed in RP; peripheral rod cells die but oxygen availability remains sufficient. This exposes local cone cells to comparative high oxygen levels, with associated susceptibility to higher reactive oxygen species generation, thus cone stress and death.

As RP progresses the patient experiences a progressive loss of peripheral vision resulting in tunnel vision, but central retina remains intact. As an RP patient ages, does Bruch’s membrane still thicken? How does the drop in metabolic demand in peripheral retina effect the signs of aging in central retina? Here we propose to elucidate variations in an aging RP population compared to normal controls and AMD. We propose to collate the incidence of RP with AMD, and assess whether the reduced metabolic demand of the photoreceptors in RP effects the development of AMD. This study aims to gather information on whether we can learn anything from RP and retinal disease progression that indicates manipulating oxygen level exposure could be viable future treatments for varying retinal pathology.

Recommended skills/ prior learning.

Candidates with a biology or a related clinical undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above. A Master’s qualification would be desirable.

If you would like to have an informal discussion please contact Tamsin.Callaghan@city.ac.uk.