Iron accumulates in the primate choroid of the eye with aging as revealed with synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy
Aging leads to an increase in iron-loaded cellular structures in the choroid of the eye. This study was carried out to determine the distribution and content of iron, zinc and copper in the macular retina, choroid and retrobulbar optic nerve of young (4–5 years, n = 3) and aged (15–16 years, n = 5) male non-human primates, Macaca fascicularis, whose ocular anatomy is similar to humans. Thirty μm-thick tissue sections were analysed with synchrotron X-ray fluorescence and stained histologically for iron deposition. Quantitative measurements showed high levels of iron, zinc and copper in the choroid and retinal pigment epithelium in the macular area and arachnoid layer in the retrobulbar optic nerve. In aged animals compared to young ones, there was an increase in iron in the choroid with larger deposits and iron-loaded cellular structures. Iron-accumulation within these cellular structures may contribute to choroidal function impairment in aging and age-related macular degeneration.