Fluorescent material generated in the human retina accumulates within lipofuscin granules of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) during aging. Its presence has been suggested to contributed to various diseases including age‐related macular degeneration. Because this material absorbs light at wave lengths as long as 550 nm, photophysical studies were performed to determine whether lipofuscin could contribute to light damage and to determine if its composition is similar to a synthetically prepared lipofuscin. Time‐resolved experiments were performed to monitor (1) fluorescence decay, (2) the UV‐visible absorption of longer‐lived excited states and (3) the formation and decay of singlet oxygen at 1270 nm. Steady‐state and time‐resolved fluorescence studies indicate that human and synthetic lipofuscin have fluorophores in common. Time‐resolved absorption experiments on human retinal lipofuscin and synthetic lipofuscin showed the presence of at least two transient species, one absorbing at 430 nm (lifetime caμs) and a second absorbing at 580 nm, which decays via second order kinetics. In addition, there is a third absorbing species stable to several hundred milliseconds. The transient species at 430 nm is quenched by oxygen, suggesting that it is a triplet state. Subsequent studies showed the formation of singlet oxygen, which was monitored by its phosphorescence decay at 1270 nm. These studies demonstrate that lipofuscin can act as a sensitizer for the generation of reactive oxygen species that may contribute to the age‐related decline of RPE function and blue light damage.
Photochemistry & Photobiology – Wiley
Published: May 1, 1995
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