Optical coherence tomography in adult adrenoleukodystrophy: a cross-sectional and longitudinal study

Neurol Sci. 2021 Jan;42(1):235-241. doi: 10.1007/s10072-020-04576-2. Epub 2020 Jul 6.


Background: Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) encompasses different neurological phenotypes, ranging from the most severe cerebral forms (C-ALD) to the less severe adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN). As visual system can be varyingly involved, we aimed at exploring whether optical coherence tomography (OCT) may detect retinal abnormalities and their longitudinal changes in adult ALD patients.

Methods: In this cross-sectional and longitudinal study, we measured the thicknesses of peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (pRNFL), macular ganglion cell complex (mGCC), and segmented inner and outer macula at baseline and their changes over time in 11 symptomatic adult ALD males and 10 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Statistical analyses were performed for the patients as complete group, and splitting them into two subgroups, one (C-ALD) with and the other (AMN) without cerebral parieto-occipital white matter (WM) lesions.

Results: In the complete ALD group and in the C-ALD subgroup, the average pRNFL, mGCC, and inner macula were significantly thinner than in controls (p ≤ 0.01), whereas in the AMN subgroup, they were constantly, though non-significantly, thinner. Significant outer macula thinning was also observed (p < 0.01). In the complete ALD group, follow-up assessment (mean 26.8 months, range 8-48) showed mildly progressive thinning of inferior pRNFL, average mGCC, and inner macula.

Conclusions: In adult ALD patients, OCT can reveal retinal abnormalities which are prominent in the more compromised patients, namely those with parieto-occipital WM lesions. The inferior pRNFL, average mGCC and inner macula thicknesses might be sensitive-to-change OCT parameters, but their utility and consistency for short-term longitudinal studies deserve further investigations.

Keywords: Adrenoleukodystrophy; Adrenomyeloneuropathy; Leukodystrophy; Optical coherence tomography; Surrogate endpoints.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenoleukodystrophy* / diagnostic imaging
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence*