Extracellular matrix dysfunction in Sorsby patient-derived retinal pigment epithelium

Abbi L. Engel, Ye Kai Wang, Thomas H. Khuu, Emily Worrall, Megan A. Manson, Rayne R. Lim, Kaitlen Knight, Aya Yanagida, Jian Hua Qi, Aravind Ramakrishnan, Richard G. Weleber, Michael L. Klein, David J. Wilson, Bela Anand-Apte, James B. Hurley, Jianhai Du, Jennifer R. Chao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Sorsby Fundus Dystrophy (SFD) is a rare form of macular degeneration that is clinically similar to age-related macular degeneration (AMD), and a histologic hallmark of SFD is a thick layer of extracellular deposits beneath the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Previous studies of SFD patient-induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) derived RPE differ as to whether these cultures recapitulate this key clinical feature by forming increased drusenoid deposits. The primary purpose of this study is to examine whether SFD patient-derived iPSC-RPE form basal deposits similar to what is found in affected family member SFD globes and to determine whether SFD iPSC RPE may be more oxidatively stressed. We performed a careful comparison of iPSC RPE from three control individuals, multiple iPSC clones from two SFD patients’ iPSC RPE, and post-mortem eyes of affected SFD family members. We also examined the effect of CRISPR-Cas9 gene correction of the S204C TIMP3 mutation on RPE phenotype. Finally, targeted metabolomics with liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry analysis and stable isotope-labeled metabolite analysis were performed to determine whether SFD RPE are more oxidatively stressed. We found that SFD iPSC-RPE formed significantly more sub-RPE deposits (∼6–90 μm in height) compared to control RPE at 8 weeks. These deposits were similar in composition to the thick layer of sub-RPE deposits found in SFD family member globes by immunofluorescence staining and TEM imaging. S204C TIMP3 correction by CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in SFD iPSC RPE cells resulted in significantly reduced basal laminar and sub-RPE calcium deposits. We detected a ∼18-fold increase in TIMP3 accumulation in the extracellular matrix (ECM) of SFD RPE, and targeted metabolomics showed that intracellular 4-hydroxyproline, a major breakdown product of collagen, is significantly elevated in SFD RPE, suggesting increased ECM turnover. Finally, SFD RPE cells have decreased intracellular reduced glutathione and were found to be more vulnerable to oxidative stress. Our findings suggest that elements of SFD pathology can be demonstrated in culture which may lead to insights into disease mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108899
JournalExperimental Eye Research
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Basal laminar drusen
  • CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing
  • Fundus dystrophy pseudoinflammatory of Sorsby
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Retinal pigment epithelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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