Links Between Macular Degeneration and High Levels of Certain Proteins

blood test for c-reactive protein inflammation macular degenerationElevated levels of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) has been correlated with an increased future risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). This breakthrough study may help identify underlying reasons for the development of ARMD. It may also assist with the development of a test to predict who is most at risk of macular degeneration, and give the patient and doctor time to head off the development of this sight-stealing disease.

The study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology (Feb 7, 2013), looked at 647 patients with Age Related Macular Degeneration, and matched them with a control group. Using data from past studies, including the Women’s Health Study, Physicians’ Health Study and Folic Acid Cardiovascular Study, they analyzed the patients’ hsCRP levels from blood drawn in years in the past, before they developed ARMD. The researchers controlled for cigarette smoking, because smoking seems to affect with how the body handles higher hsCRP levels.

Produced by the liver, c-reactive protein (CRP) is a protein that is found in the blood. Higher c-reactive protein levels indicate systemic inflammation. Increasingly, systemic inflammation is being fingered as a potential culprit in many types of diseases, including heart disease and arthritis. This type of research connects systemic inflammation with macular degeneration and perhaps other eye diseases in the future.

This information could be clinically useful in identifying in the identification of persons at high risk of AMD who may benefit from increased adherence to lifestyle recommendations, eye examination schedules, and therapeutic protocols.

There are a number of nutrients that can help reduce systemic inflammation and act as natural anti-inflammatory agents. They include turmeric (curcumin), boswellia, ginger, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum), omega-3 fatty acids, and MSM (Methyl sulfonyl methane) drops  or MSM supplements, as well as targeted enzymes both taken with meals and on an empty stomach.

Study:  “C-Reactive Protein and the Incidence of Macular Degeneration: Pooled Analysis of 5 Cohorts” by Vinod P. Mitta, MD, MPH; William G. Christen, ScD; Robert J. Glynn, PhD; Richard D. Semba, MD, MPH; Paul M. Ridker, MD, MPH; Eric B. Rimm, ScD; Susan E. Hankinson, ScD; Debra A. Schaumberg, ScD, OD, MPH. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2013;():1-7. doi:10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2013.2303.

Macular Degeneration Research Targets CCR3 Protein

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the University of Kentucky have identified a new target for the diagnosis and treatment of age-related macular degeneration.

In a study published by the journal Nature, researchers demonstrate that blocking the activity of a specific protein, called CCR3, can reduce the abnormal blood vessel growth that leads to macular degeneration. Targeting this new protein may prove to be safer and more effective than the current treatment for the disease, which is directed at a protein called vascular endothelial growth factor or “VEGF.”

When researchers blocked CCR3, either with drugs or through genetic engineering, the growth and generation of abnormal blood vessels slowed.  Drugs that target CCR3 were found to be markedly more effective than those targeting VEGF, which could represent a new therapy for the two-thirds of patients who do not respond to current treatment.

Study authors hope that this discovery may enable physicians to catch the disease in its earliest stages, before blood vessels have fully infiltrated and destroyed the central portion of the eye’s retina (the macula) to cause vision loss.

“It would be much better to prevent the disease in the first place,” said study co-author and principal investigator of the UNC study site, Mary Elizabeth Hartnett, M.D., a professor of ophthalmology in the UNC School of Medicine. “An exciting implication of this study was that the CCR3 protein could be detected in early abnormal blood vessel growth, giving us the opportunity to prevent structural damage to the retina and preserve vision.”

Source: Study suggests new approach to common cause of blindness, Hartnett, et al, June 14, 2009, href=”