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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss in the elderly population in the United States and is more prevalent in post-menopausal females than age-matched males. There are no current FDA-approved therapies for dry AMD, which composes 80- 90% of all AMD cases. Late stage dry AMD (geographic atrophy) is characterized by extensive loss of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) along with degeneration of the photoreceptors, which cause significant central vision loss. AMD is characterized by drusen, which are extracellular deposits located beneath the retina. Drusen contain proteins associated with the process of inflammation such as activated complement proteins, fragments of the membrane attack complex, vitronectin, cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and amyloid-β. Amyloid-β is a cytotoxic protein associated with various neurodegenerative diseases and is commonly found in plaques of Alzheimer’s disease. Based on these findings, we hypothesized that estradiol may have protective effects against the cytotoxic properties of amyloid-β in RPE cells in vitro.



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