Patients with neovascular AMD (nAMD) suffer vision loss from destructive angiogenesis, termed choroidal neovascularization (CNV). Macrophages are found in CNV lesions from patients with nAMD. Additionally, Ccr2–/– mice, which lack classical monocyte–derived macrophages, show reduced CNV size. However, macrophages are highly diverse cells that can perform multiple functions. We performed single-cell RNA-Seq on immune cells from WT and Ccr2–/– eyes to uncover macrophage heterogeneity during the laser-induced CNV mouse model of nAMD. We identified 12 macrophage clusters, including Spp1+ macrophages. Spp1+ macrophages were enriched from WT lasered eyes and expressed a proangiogenic transcriptome via multiple pathways, including vascular endothelial growth factor signaling, endothelial cell sprouting, cytokine signaling, and fibrosis. Additionally, Spp1+ macrophages expressed the marker CD11c, and CD11c+ macrophages were increased by laser and present in CNV lesions. Finally, CD11c+ macrophage depletion reduced CNV size by 40%. These findings broaden our understanding of ocular macrophage heterogeneity and implicate CD11c+ macrophages as potential therapeutic targets for treatment-resistant patients with nAMD.
Steven Droho, Amrita Rajesh, Carla M. Cuda, Harris Perlman, Jeremy A. Lavine