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Winston Lee, Kalev Nõupuu, Maris Oll, Tobias Duncker, Tomas Burke, Jana Zernant, Srilaxmi Bearelly, Stephen H. Tsang, Janet R. Sparrow, Rando Allikmets; The External Limiting Membrane in Early-Onset Stargardt Disease. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(10):6139-6149. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.14-15126.
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To describe pathologic changes of the external limiting membrane (ELM) in young patients with early-onset Stargardt (STGD1) disease.
Twenty-six STGD1 patients aged younger than 20 years with confirmed disease-causing adenosine triphosphate–binding cassette, subfamily A, member 4 (ABCA4) alleles and 30 age-matched unaffected individuals were studied. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), fundus autofluorescence (AF), and color fundus photography (CFP) images, as well as full-field electroretinograms were obtained and analyzed for one to four visits in each patient.
The ELM in all patients exhibited a distinct thickening that was not observed in unaffected individuals. In addition, accumulations of reflective deposits were noted in the outer nuclear layer in every patient. Four patients exhibited a concave protuberance or bulging of a thickened and hyperreflective ELM band within the fovea containing preserved photoreceptors. Longitudinal SD-OCT data in several patients revealed the persistence of this ELM abnormality over a period of time (1–4 years). Furthermore, the edges of the inner segment ellipsoid band appeared to recede earlier than the ELM band in active lesions.
Structural changes seen in the ELM of this cohort may reflect a gliotic response to cellular stress at the photoreceptor level in early-onset STGD1.
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