BACKGROUND: Previous studies have used immunohistology to demonstrate Alzheimer's disease (AD) characteristic accumulation of amyloid-β (Aβ) in the retina of AD patients, a finding indicating retina examination as a potential diagnostic tool for AD pathology.
OBJECTIVE: To further explore this idea by investigating whether levels of Aβ42 and Aβ40 in retina are associated with corresponding levels in hippocampus, neuropathological assessments, apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype, and levels of islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP).
METHODS: Levels of high molecular weight (HMW) Aβ42, Aβ40, and IAPP in ultra-centrifuged homogenates of retina and hippocampus from patients with AD, multiple sclerosis, AD with Lewy bodies, and non-demented controls were analyzed using Mesoscale Discovery electrochemiluminescence technology employing immunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
RESULTS: Higher levels of retinal and hippocampal Aβ42-HMW, Aβ40-HMW, and IAPP-HMW were found in individuals with high neuropathological scores of Aβ plaques and in individuals carrying the APOEɛ4 allele. The retinal levels of Aβ42-HMW and Aβ40-HMW correlated with corresponding levels in hippocampus as well as with neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and Aβ scores. Retinal IAPP-HMW correlated with retinal levels of Aβ42-HMW and with NFT and Aβ scores.
CONCLUSION: These results show that different isoforms of Aβ can be detected in the human retina and moreover support the growing number of studies indicating that AD-related pathological changes occurring in the brain could be reflected in the retina.