Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biological and Irrigation Engineering


Elizabeth Vargis


Scott Hinton


Jon Takemoto


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a major cause of blindness in adults. Abnormal growth of blood vessels in the eye during the course of AMD causes damage to the retina, resulting in irreversible blindness. The goal of this research was to determine whether physical pressure on retinal cells can contribute to the increased blood vessel formation. To replicate the tears in the cell layers, a micropatterning method was used as a means of detaching cells from each other. Two new devices were also developed to mimic slow and fast increases in mechanical pressure on cell layers of the eye. After detaching cells from each other and adding mechanical stress to cells, the levels of angiogenic proteins secreted by retinal cells were measured. The results showed that both cell-cell detachment and mechanical stress can increase the secretion of angiogenic proteins. After adding mechanical stress, we also added the secreted proteins to blood vessel cells and observed an increase in blood vessel formation, indicating that mechanical stress can independently induce angiogenesis. These results suggest that physical stimuli in the eye can contribute to the aberrant blood vessel formation in AMD.



Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024