Objective: To evaluate mutations in the Best mascular dystrophy (VMD2) gene in two families with Best disease and to describe the phenotype-genotype correlations of genetically determined affected and unaffected individuals.
Design: Family genetic study.
Participants: Two families with Best disease were identified, and family members were evaluated by ophthalmologic examination or fundus photography to assess their phenotype. All affected patients and some of the unaffected family members had a blood sample drawn, and the DNA was analyzed for mutations in the VMD2 gene.
Main outcome measures: Twenty-one subjects in the two pedigrees with Best disease were studied. One amino acid-changing mutation in the VMD2 gene was found to segregate independently in each family (P297S or E300D, respectively).
Results: Eleven individuals had some evidence of maculopathy, including retinal pigment epithelial changes, drusen, pigment epithelial irregularities, or cicatricial changes. Ten of these 11 patients (91%) with maculopathy had a mutation in the VMD2 gene, of whom 8 were clinically diagnosed as having Best disease and 2 were diagnosed as having possible Best maculopathy. The one patient without a mutation in the VMD2 gene had age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Ten family members did not have evidence of maculopathy, of whom 6 had no mutation in the VMD2 gene. Four family members (2 in each pedigree) had mutations in the VMD2 gene, abnormal electro-oculogram (EOG) results, but normal maculae at age 40 or older. Of the 7 individuals with no mutation in the VMD2 gene, 6 were phenotypically normal and the other had late-onset visual loss resulting from AMD.
Conclusions: All family members with maculopathy consistent with Best disease (n = 10) had an amino acid-changing mutation in the VMD2 gene. Four individuals who did not have maculopathy, but did have an abnormal EOG, also had mutations in the VMD2 gene. The presence of a VMD2 mutation is associated with abnormal retinal function, which can occur in the absence of phenotypic manifestation of macular disease.