Defining inclusion criteria and endpoints for clinical trials: a prospective cross-sectional study in CRB1-associated retinal dystrophies

Acta Ophthalmol. 2021 May;99(3):e402-e414. doi: 10.1111/aos.14597. Epub 2021 Feb 2.


Purpose: To investigate the retinal structure and function in patients with CRB1-associated retinal dystrophies (RD) and to explore potential clinical endpoints.

Methods: In this prospective cross-sectional study, 22 patients with genetically confirmed CRB1-RD (aged 6-74 years), and who had a decimal best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) ≥ 0.05 at the last visit, were studied clinically with ETDRS BCVA, corneal topography, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), fundus autofluorescence, Goldmann visual field (VF), microperimetry, full-field electroretinography (ERG) and full-field stimulus testing (FST). Ten patients were from a genetic isolate (GI).

Results: Patients had retinitis pigmentosa (n = 19; GI and non-GI), cone-rod dystrophy (n = 2; GI) or macular dystrophy (n = 1; non-GI). Median age at first symptom onset was 3 years (range 0.8-49). Median decimal BCVA in the better and worse-seeing eye was 0.18 (range 0.05-0.83) and 0.08 (range light perception-0.72), respectively. Spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) showed cystoid maculopathy in 8 subjects; inner retinal thickening (n = 20), a well-preserved (para)foveal outer retina (n = 7) or severe (para)foveal outer retinal atrophy (n = 14). All retinal layers were discernible in 13/21 patients (62%), with mild to moderate laminar disorganization in the others. Nanophthalmos was observed in 8 patients (36%). Full-field stimulus testing (FST) provided a subjective outcome measure for retinal sensitivity in eyes with (nearly) extinguished ERG amplitudes.

Conclusions: Despite the generally severe course of CRB1-RDs, symptom onset and central visual function are variable, even at advanced ages. Phenotypes may vary within the same family. Imaging and functional studies in a prospective longitudinal setting should clarify which endpoints may be most appropriate in a clinical trial.

Keywords: gene therapy; retina; retinal dystrophy; retinitis pigmentosa.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic / organization & administration
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Endpoint Determination*
  • Eye Proteins
  • Humans
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Patient Selection*
  • Phenotype
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retinal Dystrophies / diagnosis
  • Retinal Dystrophies / genetics
  • Retinal Dystrophies / physiopathology*
  • Visual Acuity
  • Young Adult


  • CRB1 protein, human
  • Eye Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins