NADPH Oxidase May be a Primary Mediator of the Adverse Effects of Cigarette Smoke and of Complement Activation on Retinal Pigment Epithelium during Induction of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells play a number of crucial roles in supporting healthful function of the retina. Oxidative stress in RPE cells is suspected to be a key factor in the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), but the chief source of this oxidative stress has not been clarified. This essay proposes that the increased risk for AMD seen in smokers, as when as in people who inherit certain variant genes that promote activation of blood proteins known as complement, reflects oxidative stress induced by NADPH oxidase complexes in RPE cells. If this view is correct, spirulina, which has potential for controlling NADPH oxidase activity, may have value in the prevention and treatment of AMD.

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