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Association Between Genotype and Phenotype Severity in ABCA4-Associated Retinopathy.

JAMA Ophthalmology 2023 September 2
IMPORTANCE: ABCA4-associated retinopathy is a common inherited retinal disease, and its phenotype spans from late-onset macular dystrophy to extensive cone-rod degeneration. Over 2000 disease-causing variants in the ABCA4 gene have been identified.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate genotype-phenotype correlations in ABCA4-associated retinopathy.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cohort study took place at a single referral center for inherited retinal diseases in Italy. Data were prospectively acquired from January 2015 to June 2022. Patients diagnosed with an inherited retinal disease related to biallelic ABCA4 variants were included for analysis.

EXPOSURE: Genotype, classified into 4 groups according to the presence of the (1) p.Gly1961Glu allele, (2) a hypomorphic allele, (3) at least 1 moderate variant (moderate genotypes), or (4) 2 biallelic severe variants (severe genotypes).

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Total decreased autofluorescence (TDAF) and definitely decreased autofluorescence (DDAF) areas, inner and outer retinal volumes, and the respective progression rate.

RESULTS: A total of 71 patients (median [IQR] age, 34 [22.4-47.2] years; 40 [56%] female) were included in the study, and 54 (76%) were followed up for a median (IQR) of 3.5 (1.6-4.7) years. Compared with moderate genotypes, those with the p.Gly1961Glu allele had smaller TDAF lesions by 61% (95% CI, -78% to -33%; P < .001) and DDAF lesions by 77% (95% CI, -93% to -18%; P = .02), along with slower growth rates for both TDAF (0.05 mm/y; 95% CI, 0.01-0.07; P < .001) and DDAF (0.06 mm/y; 95% CI, 0-0.12; P = .004). Hypomorphic alleles were associated with a thicker inner (+0.19 mm3; 95% CI, +0.02 to +0.36; P = .03) and outer retinal volume (+0.16 mm3; 95% CI, +0.03 to +0.28; P = .01) compared with moderate genotypes as well as a slower TDAF growth rate (0.05 mm/y; 95% CI, 0.01-0.08; P = .007). Severe genotypes had a 7-fold larger TDAF area (95% CI, 3.4-14.7; P < .001) and 11-fold larger DDAF area (95% CI, 2.9-42.1; P < .001) compared with moderate genotypes, along with faster growth rates estimated at 0.16 mm/y for TDAF (95% CI, 0.12-0.20; P < .001) and 0.17 mm/y for DDAF (95% CI, 0.12-0.23; P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: In this study of ABCA4-associated retinopathy, a 4-tier classification of genotypes was found to capture substantial variation in disease phenotype severity. These findings could prove beneficial for the prognostication of patients and warrant consideration of genotype in the design of future clinical trials.

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