VASCULAR ALTERATIONS REVEALED WITH OPTICAL COHERENCE TOMOGRAPHY ANGIOGRAPHY IN PATIENTS WITH CHOROIDEREMIA.
Battaglia Parodi M., Arrigo A., MacLaren RE., Aragona E., Toto L., Mastropasqua R., Manitto MP., Bandello F.
PURPOSE: Choroideremia is a rare degenerative retinal disease that causes incurable blindness. It occurs as a result of the deficiency of the X-linked CHM gene, which encodes the Rab escort protein 1 (REP1). Gene therapy has been developed to treat CHM using adeno-associated viral vectors and is currently undergoing clinical trials. Expression of the CHM gene is ubiquitous throughout the retina, and it is therefore important to identify which retinal layers are affected in the disease process. The purpose of this study was to assess in particular the choriocapillaris using optical coherence tomography angiography because this layer is difficult to see with conventional imaging techniques. METHODS: Six men with choroideremia were identified and underwent standardized optical coherence tomography angiography as part of an ethics-approved clinical study and were compared with age-matched control subjects. RESULTS: The choriocapillaris appeared normal in regions where the retinal pigment epithelium remained intact, but it was deficient elsewhere. The outer retinal vasculature showed significant changes peripherally but also some changes centrally. The inner retinal vasculature appeared unaffected by the disease process. CONCLUSION: Choroideremia is a disease in which the choriocapillaris maintains a normal structure until the loss of the overlying retinal pigment epithelium. The inner retina also appears not to be affected at the vascular level. Although this study is limited by the small number of patients eligible for inclusion in the study, the observations support the concept of targeting gene therapy to the retinal pigment epithelium and outer retina because there is no evidence of independent degeneration of the choriocapillaris.