Microglia Contribution to the Regulation of the Retinal and Choroidal Vasculature in Age-Related Macular Degeneration
The retina is a highly metabolically active tissue with high-level consumption of nutrients and oxygen. This high metabolic demand requires a properly developed and maintained vascular system. The retina is nourished by two systems: the central retinal artery that supplies the inner retina and the choriocapillaris that supplies the outer retina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Pathological neovascularization, characterized by endothelial cell proliferation and new vessel formation, is a common hallmark in several retinal degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A limited number of studies have suggested that microglia, the resident immune cells of the retina, have an important role not only in the pathology but also in the formation and physiology of the retinal vascular system. Here, we review the current knowledge on microglial interaction with the retinal vascular system under physiological and pathological conditions. To do so, we first highlight the role of microglial cells in the formation and maintenance of the retinal vasculature system. Thereafter, we discuss the molecular signaling mechanisms through which microglial cells contribute to the alterations in retinal and choroidal vasculatures and to the neovascularization in AMD.