Purpose: To describe in detail the retinal structure and function of a group of patients with cobalamin C (cblC) disease.
Methods: Patients (n = 11, age 4 months to 15 years) with cblC disease (9/11, early onset) diagnosed by newborn screening underwent complete ophthalmic examinations, fundus photography, near-infrared reflectance imaging, and spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT). Electroretinograms (ERGs) were performed in a subset of patients.
Results: Patients carried homozygous or compound heterozygote mutations in the methylmalonic aciduria and homocystinuria type C (MMACHC) gene. Late-onset patients had a normal exam. All early-onset patients showed a maculopathy; older subjects had a retina-wide degeneration (n = 4; >7 years of age). In general, retinal changes were first observed before 1 year of age and progressed within months to a well-established maculopathy. Pseudocolobomas were documented in three patients. Measurable visual acuities ranged from 20/200 to 20/540. Nystagmus was present in 8/11 patients; 5/6 patients had normal ERGs; 1/6 had reduced rod-mediated responses. Spectral-domain OCT showed macular thinning, with severe ganglion cell layer (GCL) and outer nuclear layer (ONL) loss. Inner retinal thickening was observed in areas of total GCL/ONL loss. A normal lamination pattern in the peripapillary nasal retina was often seen despite severe central and/or retina-wide disease.
Conclusions: Patients with early-onset cblC and MMACHC mutations showed an early-onset, unusually fast-progressing maculopathy with severe central ONL and GCL loss. An abnormally thickened inner retina supports a remodeling response to both photoreceptor and ganglion cell degeneration and/or an interference with normal development in early-onset cblC.