Quantitative fundus autofluorescence in rhesus macaques in aging and age-related drusen

Tu M. Tran, Soohyun Kim, Kira H. Lin, Sook Hyun Chung, Sangwan Park, Yevgeniy Sazhnyev, Yinwen Wang, David Cunefare, Sina Farsiu, Sara M. Thomasy, Ala Moshiri, Glenn Yiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To employ quantitative fundus autofluorescence (qAF) imaging in rhesus macaques to noninvasively assess retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) lipofuscin in nonhuman primates (NHPs) as a model of aging and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS. The qAF imaging was performed on eyes of 26 rhesus macaques (mean age 18.8 8.2 years, range 4 27 years) with normal-Appearing fundus or with age-related soft drusen using a confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope with 488 nm excitation and an internal fluorescence reference. Eyes with soft drusen also underwent spectraldomain optical coherence tomography imaging to measure drusen volume and height of individual drusen lesions. The qAF levels were measured from the perifoveal annular ring (quantitative autofluorescence 8 [qAF8]) using the Delori grid, as well as focally over individual drusen lesions in this region. The association between qAF levels and age, sex, and drusen presence and volume were determined using multivariable regression analysis. RESULTS. Mean qAF levels increased with age (P 0.001) and were higher in females (P = 0.047). Eyes with soft drusen exhibited reduced mean qAF compared with agematched normal eyes (P = 0.003), with greater drusen volume showing a trend toward decreased qAF levels. However, qAF levels are focally increased over most individual drusen (P 0.001),with larger drusen appearing more hyperautofluorescent (R2 = 0.391, P 0.001). CONCLUSIONS. In rhesus macaques, qAF levels are increased with age and female sex, but decreased in eyes with soft drusen, similar to human AMD. However, drusen lesions appear hyperautofluorescent unlike those in humans, suggesting similarities and differences in RPE lipofuscin between humans and NHPs that may provide insight into drusen biogenesis and AMD pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • age-related macular degeneration
  • AMD
  • autofluorescence
  • fundus autofluorescence
  • lipofuscin
  • macaque
  • maculopathy
  • primate
  • rhesus macaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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