Eye colour genes also key for retinal health

Scientists have discovered that four genes which code for eye colour also play a separate role in maintaining the health of retinal tissue

green eye
Pixabay/Rudy and Peter Skitterians

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany have highlighted the role of genes that are responsible for eye colour in also contributing to retinal health.

The research, which was published in PLOS Genetics, examined the role of four Drosophila genes responsible for eye colour pigmentation: cinnabar, cardinal, white, and scarlet.

The genes also encode the kynurenine metabolic pathway – which is important for retinal health.

The researchers discovered that the genes regulate this metabolic pathway independent of their role in eye colour pigmentation.

In certain circumstances, retinal health can be improved by altering the ratio of metabolites of the Kynurenine pathway.

Study supervisor, Elisabeth Knust, shared: "In the future, the ratio of the various metabolites and the specific sites of their accumulation and activity should be taken into account in therapeutic strategies for diseases with impaired Kynurenine pathway function, observed in various neurodegenerative conditions."