AMD’s environmentally affected genes

April 3, 2024 Staff reporters

US researchers have identified 87 genes susceptible to environmental influences affecting individuals’ risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD). 


Led by Dr Anand Swaroop, senior investigator in the Neurobiology, Neurodegeneration and Repair Laboratory at the National Eye Institute (NEI), researchers analysed patterns of DNA methylation (DNAm) in 160 retinas from donors with AMD. DNA methylation is a biological process which adds methyl groups to the DNA molecule potentially changing the activity of the DNA segment. It can be disrupted by environmental factors including ultraviolet radiation, diet, exercise and smoking. Published in Nature, the research team’s results indicated DNAm patterns in 87 target genes associated with both non-disease conditions and patients with AMD.  


Although previous, large population-based genetic studies identified 52 DNA variants among AMD patients, many of these involve non-coding DNA regions, so it is unclear how each variant contributes to the disease, said the NEI research team. “Our findings provide a framework for treatment approaches aimed at regulating gene-environment relationships and their contribution to AMD progression and pathology,” said Dr Swaroop.