PURPOSE: Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP) is known to play a role in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). We wished to investigate alterations in different late stages of AMD: neovascular AMD and geographic atrophy (GA).
METHODS: This was a prospective case-control study. A total of 125 participants were included consecutively during a period of 18 months. We included 46 patients with neovascular AMD, 46 patients with GA without any sign of choroidal neovascularization in either eye, and 33 healthy aged controls. Patients with immune-affecting disorders were not included. Commercial immunoassay kits were used to quantify levels of TIMP-1, TIMP-3, MMP-2 and MMP-9 in blood plasma.
RESULTS: We found that patients with neovascular AMD had lower plasma concentration of TIMP-3 (p = 0.028) than healthy controls. Patients with GA had higher plasma levels of TIMP-1 (p < 0.001) and MMP-9 (p = 0.022) compared to healthy controls. Also, we found that TIMP-1 levels in patients with GA increased with age (Spearman's rho = 0.04, p = 0.006).
CONCLUSION: Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and TIMPs, which are known to be involved in age-related changes in Bruch's membrane, are significantly altered systemically, suggesting the presence of an imbalance in the homeostasis of the extracellular matrix. These imbalances may explain differences in the clinical manifestation of late AMD.