The Dunaief Lab


The Dunaief Lab Banner - Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Iron-Induced Oxidative Stress, Rejuvenation, Inflammation, Aging Mechanisms. Where the Iron People Are.


Welcome to Dunaief Lab.

Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the United States.

We want to stop it.

We study inflammation and iron accumulation in Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and other neurodegenerative diseases alongside a global network of collaborators.  Our research studies and addresses the following primary keywords:

  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Iron-induced oxidative stress
  • Aging mechanisms
  • Inflammation
  • Rejuvenation

See how:

1. Who We Are.

We are a group of ophthalmologists, research fellows & graduate students who strive to prevent vision loss by leveraging cutting edge basic science research to benefit patients across the world.

2. What We Do.

In 2003, the Dunaief Lab established that elevated iron levels may contribute to AMD. We study the role of iron and inflammation in AMD and other retinal degenerations as part of the F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania.  Learn more about the history of the F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology and its mission on its 30th Anniversary here.  

Iron is a potent generator of oxidative damage whose levels increase with age, potentially exacerbating age-related diseases. Several lines of evidence suggest that iron accumulation may be a factor in age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD retinas have more iron within the photoreceptors, RPE, and drusen than do age-matched control retinas. Accelerated AMD-like maculopathy develops in patients with retinal iron overload from the hereditary disease aceruloplasminemia. Mice with retinal iron overload resulting from knockout of ceruloplasmin and its homologue hephaestin exhibit retinal degeneration with some features of AMD, including subretinal neovascularization, accumulation of RPE lipofuscin and sub-RPE deposits, and RPE/photoreceptor death. Increased understanding of the mechanisms of retinal iron homeostasis may help in the development of therapies to prevent iron overload. For example, herein it is shown that one regulator of systemic iron homeostasis, HFE, is expressed in the RPE. Thus, patients with the common disease hereditary hemochromatosis, which is often caused by an HFE mutation, may have retinal iron overload predisposing to AMD. Preliminary data suggest that iron chelation can reduce RPE iron overload in mice and protect them from degeneration, suggesting that iron-binding drugs may one day prove useful in reducing RPE oxidative stress and decreasing the risk of AMD progression.


3. Why We Do It.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) can develop into one of two advanced forms: geographic atrophy, known as the "dry" form, or choroidal neovascularization, referred to as the "wet" form. Ultimately, AMD is the primary reason for irreversible vision loss in older adults.

There are no known treatments for geographic atrophy.  Yet.

Perelman School of Medicine Events

    More Events