Retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) are specialized, multifunctional cells in the retina that form a monolayer of cuboidal, polarized cells adjoining the photoreceptor cells. The RPE are a critical component of the blood-retinal barrier, and they play essential functional roles for maintenance of retinal homeostasis and for support and health of photoreceptors. Age-dependent, progressive dysfunction and death of RPE cells and the resultant loss of photoreceptors contribute significantly to the development and progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other retinal degenerative diseases. Several different RPE cell culture models have been developed and utilized extensively as surrogates for cellular and molecular examinations of the RPE, and a large body of knowledge on RPE function in normal and pathological scenarios has been amassed in studies with cultured RPE. Proteomics has been an integral part of research efforts aimed to advance our understanding of RPE cell biology in health and disease. This review focuses on applications of proteomics to in vitro qualitative and quantitative investigation of human RPE cell culture models. The disease context discussed focuses on AMD.
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