Erythropoietin as a novel therapeutic agent for atrophic age-related macular degeneration.
ABSTRACT The purpose of this article is to propose a novel therapeutic approach to the treatment of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the leading cause of blindness in the elderly population (over 60 years of age) in developed countries. Although recent advances have been made in the treatment of the neovascular form of ARMD, there is still no effective treatment for the most prevalent atrophic form of ARMD. Although the exact etiology and molecular pathogenesis of the atrophic ARMD are not fully understood, it is believed that oxidative stress and local inflammation play a major role in the pathologic processes and that the disease is triggered by dysfunction in the retinal pigment epithelia, leading to the degeneration of macular photoreceptor cells, followed by irreversible loss of vision. Considering that erythropoietin (EPO) has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties, we hypothesize that it can be developed as a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of the atrophic form of ARMD. Future studies are needed to confirm or rule out this hypothesis. If successful, such studies may also help shield the lights on molecular mechanisms of atrophic ARMD.