Objective: To describe functional and structural features of presumed cancer-associated retinopathy (CAR) mimicking sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) in dogs and describe treatment outcomes. Animals: Subjects were 17 dogs from 8 eight US states and Canada diagnosed with SARDS or immune-mediated retinitis (IMR) by 12 ophthalmologists. Nine eyes from seven deceased patients were used for microarray (MA), histology, or immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis. Procedures: Dogs underwent complete ophthalmic examination, including retinal photography, optical coherence tomography (OCT), chromatic pupil light reflex testing (cPLR), and electroretinography (ERG), in addition to complete systemic examination. Histology, microarray, and IHC analysis were performed in CAR retinas to evaluate histological and molecular changes in retinal tissue. Results: None of the patients evaluated satisfied previously established criteria for diagnosis of SARDS (flat ERG+ no red – good blue PLR), and all were diagnosed with IMR. All patients were diagnosed with a cancer: meningioma (24%), sarcoma (18%), pituitary tumor (12%), and squamous cell carcinoma (12%), other (34%). Median survival time was 6 months from diagnosis (range 1-36 months). Most frequent systemic abnormalities were as follows: proteinuria (78%); elevated liver enzymes (47%); and metabolic changes (PU/PD, polyphagia – 24%). Immunosuppressive therapy resulted in the reversal of blindness in 44% of treated patients, with 61% of all treated patients recovering and/or maintaining vision. Median time for preservation of vision was 5 months (range 1-35 months). Conclusions: Observed changes are highly suggestive of immune-mediated damage in IMR-CAR eyes. A relatively high percentage of patients with CAR responded positively to immunosuppressive therapy.
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