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Candidate gene analysis suggests a role for fatty acid biosynthesis and regulation of the complement system in the etiology of age-related maculopathy.

  • Author(s): Conley, Yvette P;
  • Thalamuthu, Anbupalam;
  • Jakobsdottir, Johanna;
  • Weeks, Daniel E;
  • Mah, Tammy;
  • Ferrell, Robert E;
  • Gorin, Michael B
  • et al.
Abstract

Age-related maculopathy (ARM) is a leading cause of visual impairment in elderly Americans and is a complex genetic disorder. Hypothesized pathways for the etiology of ARM include cholesterol and lipoprotein metabolism and transport, extracellular matrix integrity, oxidative stress and inflammatory/immunologic processes. This study investigates 21 polymorphisms within 15 candidate genes whose products function within these pathways by performing family and case-control genetic association studies using clearly affected familial cases (n=338 families, 796 individuals), clearly affected, unrelated sporadic cases (n=196) and clearly unaffected, unrelated controls (n=120). Two genes demonstrated significant association with ARM status. A Met299Val variant in the elongation of very long chain fatty acids-like 4 (ELOVL4) gene was significantly associated with ARM in the case-control allele (P=0.001), case-control genotype (P=0.001) and case-control family (P<0.0001) tests. A Tyr402His variant in exon 9 in the complement factor H (CFH) gene was also significantly associated with ARM in the case-control allele (P<0.0001), case-control genotype (P<0.0001) and case-control family (P<0.0001) tests. All of these results remain significant after adjusting for false discovery rates to control for the impact of multiple testing. In addition, the CFH variant appears to play a role in exudative and atrophic disease, whereas the ELOVL4 variant may play a greater role in exudative disease in our population. These results support a potential role for multiple pathways in the etiology of ARM, including pathways involved with fatty acid biosynthesis and the complement system.

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