Clearance of dying ARPE-19 cells by professional and nonprofessional phagocytes in vitro- implications for age-related macular degeneration (AMD)

Goran Petrovski, Erika Berényi, Morten C. Moe, Attila Vajas, Lászlõ Fésüs, András Berta, Andrea Facskõ

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Failure of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells and macrophages to engulf different dying cells in the retina may result in accumulation of debris and development of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The dynamics and influence of different treatments on this clearance process can be studied in vitro using human ARPE-19 cells and macrophages as phagocytes modelling dry and wet type of AMD, respectively. Methods: Death through extracellular matrix detachment using polyHEMA-coated surfaces (anoikis) and UV irradiation (apoptosis) was induced in ARPE-19 cells. Two-coloured phagocytic assays were performed to quantify the amount of dying cells phagocytes engulfed (flow cytometry) and for visualization (fluorescent and scanning electron microscopy). The effect of phosphatidylserine inhibition with recombinant annexin-V and glucocorticoid (triamcinolone) treatment on the phagocytic process was tested. Results: The clearance of anoikic and apoptotic cells by nondying ARPE-19 cells over 8 hr of co-incubation increased over time (at 8 hr, over 53% and 35% of the phagocytes contained engulfed dying cells, respectively). The human macrophages engulfed the anoikic and apoptotic ARPE-19 cells with seven and four times lower capacity, respectively. Phosphatidylserine appearance on the dying cells did not affect, but triamcinolone treatment enhanced the phagocytosis of the dying cells by macrophages. Conclusions: ARPE-19 cells are more efficient in clearing anoikic than UV-induced apoptotic cells. Macrophages are less efficient in the clearance process than ARPE-19 cells. The present model can be used for studying both dry and wet type of AMD in vitro and for testing different pharmacological aspects affecting this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e30-e34
JournalActa Ophthalmologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2011



  • AMD
  • Anoikis
  • macrophages
  • nonprofessional phagocytes
  • phagocytosis
  • triamcinolone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

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