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Janet R. Sparrow, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Ophthalmic Science

E-mail: jrs88@columbia.edu

picture Work in my laboratory involves two areas of study. 1. The death of retinal pigmented epithelial (RPE) cells in several retinal disorders including Stargardt's disease and atrophic age-related macular degeneration (AMD), precedes the degeneration of photoreceptor cells and the impairment of vision. In worked aimed at examining a causal link between the intracellular accumulation of lipofuscin fluorophores and RPE cell death, we have shown that a major fluorophore of RPE lipofuscin, A2E, confers a susceptibilty to blue light-mediated cell death and can lead to a detergent-like perturbation of membranes. We are also examining mechanisms involved in A2E biosynthesis and conditions under which the formation of A2E may be accelerated.

2. The second area of research is aimed at elucidating the role of the neurotrophins NT-3 in the development of chick retina. In a collaborative effort with Drs. Barbara Hempstead and Takashi Mikawa, the contributions of NT-3 signaling to chick retinal development in vivo are being determined using retroviral vector-mediated gene transfer to perturb the expression of NT-3 and its receptor trk C.

Selected publications
Ben-Shabat S, Parish CA, Hashimoto M, Liu J, Nakanishi K, Sparrow JR. 2001 Jun 18 Fluorescent pigments of the retinal pigment epithelium and age-related macular degeneration. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. ;11(12):1533-40.

Sparrow JR, Cai B. 2001 May Blue light-induced apoptosis of A2E-containing RPE: involvement of caspase-3 and protection by Bcl-2. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. ;42(6):1356-62.

Das I, Sparrow JR, Lin MI, Shih E, Mikawa T, Hempstead BL. 2000 Apr Trk C signaling is required for retinal progenitor cell proliferation. J Neurosci. 15;20(8):2887-95.

Liu J, Itagaki Y, Ben-Shabat S, Nakanishi K, Sparrow JR. 2000 Sep 22 The biosynthesis of A2E, a fluorophore of aging retina, involves the formation of the precursor, A2-PE, in the photoreceptor outer segment membrane. J Biol Chem. ; 275(38):29354-60.

Sparrow JR, Nakanishi K, Parish CA. 2000 Jun The lipofuscin fluorophore A2E mediates blue light-induced damage to retinal pigmented epithelial cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. ;41(7):1981-9.

Sparrow JR, Parish CA, Hashimoto M, Nakanishi K. 1999 Nov A2E, a lipofuscin fluorophore, in human retinal pigmented epithelial cells in culture. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. ;40(12):2988-95.

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Dept. of Anatomy & Cell Biology contact: Haesung Chung
Last modified on August 9, 2001