Choroideremia: Analysis of the retina from a female symptomatic carrier

Vera L. Bonilha, Karmen M. Trzupek, Yong Li, Peter J. Francis, Joe G. Hollyfield, Mary E. Rayborn, Nizar Smaoui, Richard G. Weleber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Purpose: To define the retinal pathology in a 91 year-old affected matriarch of a three-generation choroideremia family with multiple manifesting carriers. Methods: Tissue from three different retinal areas was processed for immunohistochemistry. The macular area was processed for transmission electron microscopy. Cryosections were studied by indirect immunofluorescence, using well-characterized antibodies to cone cytoplasm, rhodopsin and cone opsins. The affected donor eyes were compared to a postmortem matched normal eye. Results: The retina displayed areas of severe degeneration, with no photoreceptor outer segments, photoreceptor nuclear atrophy, and atrophy of the inner retina. Other retinal areas were near to normal. The RPE was severely degenerated, with thinning, pigment clumping and sub-epithelial debris deposition in all the areas examined. The choroid displayed depigmentation. Labeling with cone opsin antibodies revealed that cones were drastically affected: blue opsin was almost completely absent, while red/green opsins were distributed along the entire plasma membrane of the cell. Rhodopsin was also distributed along the entire rod plasma membrane. Ultrastructural analysis of the affected macula revealed the absence of RPE apical microvilli and basal infoldings. Instead, RPE's basal surface and choroid displayed the presence of banded fibers composed of clumps of wide-spacing collagen. Bruch's membrane was filled with vesicular structures, some smooth and others with bristle-like projections. Conclusions: The histological data suggests that the clinical manifestation in this donor is related to degenerative changes in the retina, RPE, and choroid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-110
Number of pages12
JournalOphthalmic Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Carrier state
  • Choroideremia
  • Cone opsins
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Rhodopsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Ophthalmology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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