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November 1991

Gyrate Atrophy of the Choroid and RetinaLong-term Reduction of Ornithine Slows Retinal Degeneration

Author Affiliations

From the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md (Drs Kaiser-Kupfer and Caruso), and The Howard Hughes Medical Institute Laboratory of Genetics, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md (Dr Valle).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1991;109(11):1539-1548. doi:10.1001/archopht.1991.01080110075039

• Gyrate atrophy of the choroid and retina is an autosomal recessive, chorioretinal dystrophy that begins in childhood and leads to blindness in the fourth to seventh decade of life. The primary defect is deficiency of ornithine-δ-amino-transferase, which results in accumulation of ornithine. We examined six pairs of affected siblings to determine if intrafamilial variability in the phenotype was less than interfamilial, and to determine if long-term (5- to 7-year) reduction of ornithine with an arginine-restricted diet had an effect on the progression of the chorioretinal degeneration. All but one set of siblings underwent periodic ophthalmologic examinations. The clinical diagnosis was confirmed with the demonstration of hyperornithinemia and deficiency of ornithine-δ-aminotransferase. The molecular defects in their ornithine-δ-amino-transferase genes also were determined. The two younger pairs of siblings were given an arginine-restricted diet and followed up for 5 to 7 years. We found strikingly similar phenotypes in affected members of the same pair of siblings. In the young patients receiving the diet, there was substantial reduction of ornithine levels. These children had only modest progression of their ocular disease during this period. Furthermore, a comparison of the outcome of the younger with their older siblings at an equivalent age showed that the younger siblings, who started receiving the diet at an earlier age, had much less ocular disease. We conclude that intrafamilial phenotypic variation in gyrate atrophy is less than interfamilial and, therefore, that genetic heterogeneity plays a role in the phenotypic variability of gyrate atrophy. Furthermore, we conclude that chronic reduction of ornithine with an arginine-restricted diet dramatically slows the progression of the chorioretinal dystrophy.