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Kathleen Chirco

Mentor: Robert Mullins, Ph.D.
Lab Room: 4120 MERF
Lab Phone: 319-335-9955

Role of C-reactive protein in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a devastating chorioretinal degenerative disease that can result in progressive irreversible vision loss in affected individuals. AMD affects about one third of the elderly population, specifically targeting the macula which is important for central vision. Although many of the characteristics of AMD are known, such as drusen development and retinal pigment epithelium atrophy, the exact mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of AMD has yet to be worked out. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an acute phase protein produced in the liver, released into circulation, and commonly used as a marker for systemic inflammation. While increased levels of choroidal CRP are thought to be associated with increased AMD risk, the exact reasoning for this is largely unstudied. Using human donor eye tissue and cell culture techniques, I am studying the role that CRP plays in the progression of AMD.

Chirco KR, Hazlewood RJ, Miller K, Workalemahu G, Jampol LM, Lesser GR, Mullins RF, Kuehn MH, Fingert JH. MMP19 expression in the human optic nerve. Mol Vis. 2016 Dec 14;22:1429-1436. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 28003733; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5166795.

Chirco KR, Sohn EH, Stone EM, Tucker BA, Mullins RF. Structural and molecular changes in the aging choroid: implications for age-related macular degeneration. Eye (Lond). 2016 Oct 7. doi: 10.1038/eye.2016.216. Review. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27716746.

Sohn EH, Chirco KR, Folk JC, Mullins RF. Clinicopathological correlation in a patient with previously treated birdshot chorioretinopathy. Retin Cases Brief Rep. 2016 Jul 26. DOI: 10.1097/ICB.0000000000000367. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 27465484.

Chirco KR, Whitmore SS, Wang K, Potempa LA, Halder JA, Stone EM, Tucker BA, Mullins RF. Monomeric C-reactive protein and inflammation in age-related macular degeneration. J Pathol. 2016 Oct;240(2):173-83. doi: 10.1002/path.4766. Epub 2016 Sep 19. PubMed PMID: 27376713

Chirco KR, Tucker BA, Stone EM, Mullins RF. Selective accumulation of the complement membrane attack complex in aging choriocapillaris. Exp Eye Res. 2015 Sep 11. pii: S0014-4835(15)30024-5. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2015.09.003. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26368849; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4788569.

Whitmore SS, Sohn EH, Chirco KR, Drack AV, Stone EM, Tucker BA, Mullins RF. Complement activation and choriocapillaris loss in early AMD: implications for pathophysiology and therapy. Prog Retin Eye Res. 2015 Mar;45:1-29. doi:10.1016/j.preteyeres.2014.11.005. Epub 2014 Dec 5. Review. PubMed PMID: 25486088;PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4339497.