How the protein profile of the eye reveals insight on ageing

Scientists have mapped close to 6000 proteins contained within drops of eye fluid

A lab worker wearing white gloves holds test tubes in a laboratory
Pixabay/Darko Stojanovic

Researchers have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that can predict a healthy individual’s age from the protein profile of their eye.

The study, which was published in Cell, mapped close to 6000 proteins from different cell types within the eye.

They then created an AI model that can predict the molecular age of the eye based on a subset of 26 proteins. The model could accurately predict the age of individuals with healthy eyes.

The researchers also found that diseases such as diabetic retinopathy and uveitis resulted in accelerated ageing within certain cell types.

"What's amazing about the eye is we can look inside and see diseases happening in real time," senior author Vinit Mahajan, of Stanford University, shared.

"Our primary focus was to connect those anatomical changes to what's happening at the molecular level inside the eyes of our patients,” he elaborated.

As part of the research process, the scientists identified several proteins in the eye that are associated with Parkinson’s disease.

This discovery holds potential for the earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease by screening for markers within eye fluid.