July 2018
Volume 59, Issue 9
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2018
Immunologic Aspects of Vision Loss in Alzheimer's Disease
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Charles E Thirkill
    Ocular Immunology, UC Davis, Davis, California, United States
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Charles Thirkill, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  NEI Core Grant : 1 P30 EY12576-11
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science July 2018, Vol.59, 2514. doi:
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      Charles E Thirkill; Immunologic Aspects of Vision Loss in Alzheimer's Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(9):2514.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : Findings implicating autoimmunity continue to be described in studies of the complex nature of Alzheimer’s disease. The associated inflammation is suspected to contribute to the reported damage to ganglion cells.

Previous studies of patients with idiopathic retinopathies identified some who exhibit indications of retinal ganglion hypersensitivity. This study sought any comparative abnormality in Alzheimer's disease that might further understanding of the disease process, and provide the means for early diagnosis, thereby prompting appropriate medical interventions.

Methods : Twenty archived serum samples from Alzheimer's disease patients were obtained from the Emory University department of Neurology Bio-specimens tissue bank.
The antibody activity of each sample was evaluated by Western blot reactions on extracts of pig retina, and an extract of a culture of human retinal ganglion cells.

Indirect Fluorescent antibody assays were performed on retinal ganglion cells grown as monolayers on 9 mm circular cover slips, and upon 6 micron sections of rhesus monkey eyes. Antibody activity was compared with that found in 20 archived normal serum samples accumulated over time from the Women's Health Initiative program.

Results : Four of the 20 archived Alzheimer's serum samples proved reactive in the anti-retinal ganglion assays, an abnormality best appreciated by indirect immuno-histochemistry on sectioned rhesus monkey eyes in which the cytoplasm of retinal ganglion cells, and the axons of these cells that form the nerve fiber layer (which reaches back into the brain), were seen to be involved.

Conclusions : Although only four of the 20 Alzheimer's serum samples proved reactive in the anti-retinal ganglion assays, a greater 'disease-associated' correlation might be found in future studies using fresh serum samples, rather than the archived 'tissue bank' sera used here..
None of the normal archived serum samples reacted in any of the retinal ganglion assays.

Findings indicate the need for continuing studies into the abnormality of retinal ganglion cell hypersensitivity which could prove useful in the early detection of Alzheimer's disease, prompting the need for appropriate medical interventions.

Supported by NEI Core Grant P 130 EY12576-11.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2018 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Honolulu, Hawaii, April 29 - May 3, 2018.


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