[en] PURPOSE. To identify modifications in the gene expression profile of the ocular posterior segment in ovariectomized (OVX) mice with and without substitutive estradiol therapy and to select differentially expressed genes that could be relevant to the natural history of human age-related macular degeneration (AMD). METHODS. Chorioretinal tissues from two groups of 25 treated and untreated OVX mice were analyzed by using cDNA array technology. The expression level of selected genes was confirmed in triplicate by RT-PCR and related to the estrogenic status of the animals. Expression of the YKL-40 gene was further investigated in intact or diseased human retinas and in a murine model of experimental choroidal neovascularization (CNV), using laser pressure catapulting. RESULTS. Of the approximately, 10,000 genes screened, only YKL-40 expression was significantly downregulated by 17-beta-estradiol. YKL-40 was expressed in intact human neural retina and in the RPE. The expression of YKL-40 was upregulated in experimental CNV and in neovascular membranes extracted from patients affected by the exudative form of AMD. CONCLUSIONS. These observations indicate that YKL-40 expression in the retina is modulated by serum levels of estradiol. This protein could be relevant to the development of AMD and is also a new mediator to take into account when evaluating the broad consequences of hormonal replacement therapy.