Characterization of CDH3-Related Congenital Hypotrichosis With Juvenile Macular Dystrophy

JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016 Sep 1;134(9):992-1000. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2016.2089.


Importance: Congenital hypotrichosis with juvenile macular dystrophy (HJMD) is a rare disorder presenting in childhood and adolescence with central visual disturbance and sparse scalp hair. Reported retinal imaging is lacking, and whether the condition is progressive remains unclear.

Objective: To investigate a series of patients with HJMD due to biallelic mutations in CDH3 and thereby characterize the disorder.

Design, setting, and participants: Ten patients from 10 families underwent detailed clinical assessment, including serial retinal imaging and electrophysiologic evaluation, at Moorfields Eye Hospital, St James's University Hospital, and Calderdale Royal Infirmary. Patients ranged in age from 3 to 17 years at onset and 5 to 57 years at last assessment. The molecular genetic investigation included bidirectional Sanger sequencing of all exons and intron-exon boundaries of CDH3 and whole-exome sequencing in 2 patients. The study was conducted from June 5, 2013, to January 15, 2016, with final follow-up completed on December 15, 2015.

Main outcomes and measures: Results of clinical assessment and molecular genetic testing.

Results: All 10 patients (7 male and 3 female) presented with central visual disturbance in childhood and had lifelong sparse scalp hair with normal facial hair. Fundus examination revealed chorioretinal atrophy of the posterior pole contiguous with the disc in all but 1 patient that was associated with marked loss of autofluorescence on fundus autofluorescence imaging. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) demonstrated variable degrees of atrophy of the outer retina, retinal pigment epithelium, and choroid, with outer retinal tubulations frequently observed. One patient had mild disruption of the inner segment ellipsoid band on OCT and additional mild digit abnormalities. Electrophysiologic evaluation in 5 patients demonstrated macular dysfunction with additional mild, generalized retinal dysfunction in 2 patients. Eight patients had more than 1 evaluation; of these, 5 patients showed deterioration of visual acuity over time, 1 patient remained stable, and 2 patients had severe visual loss at presentation that precluded assessment of visual deterioration. The area of atrophy did not progress with time, but retinal thickness decreased on OCT. Electrophysiologic evaluation in 1 patient found deterioration of macular function after 13 years of follow-up, but the mild, generalized photoreceptor dysfunction remained stable. Biallelic mutations were identified in all patients, including 6 novel mutations.

Conclusions and relevance: These results suggest that CDH3-related disease is characterized by a childhood-onset, progressive chorioretinal atrophy confined to the posterior pole. The disease is readily distinguished from other juvenile macular dystrophies by the universally thin and sparse scalp hair. Patients may have additional limb abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cadherins / genetics*
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Disease Progression
  • Electroretinography
  • Female
  • Fluorescein Angiography
  • Fundus Oculi
  • Humans
  • Hypotrichosis / congenital*
  • Hypotrichosis / diagnosis
  • Hypotrichosis / genetics
  • Hypotrichosis / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Macular Degeneration / genetics*
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Retina
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology*
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence
  • Visual Acuity*
  • Young Adult


  • CDH3 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • DNA

Supplementary concepts

  • Juvenile macular degeneration and hypotrichosis