OBJECTIVE: To describe the spectrum of Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA) and cone-rod dystrophy (CORD) associated with the GUCY2D gene, and to identify potential clinical endpoints and optimal patient selection for future therapeutic trials.
DESIGN: International multicenter retrospective cohort study.
SUBJECTS: 82 patients with GUCY2D-associated CORD and LCA from 54 molecularly confirmed families.
METHODS: Data were gathered by reviewing medical records for medical history, symptoms, best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), ophthalmoscopy, visual fields, full-field electroretinography and retinal imaging (fundus photography, spectral-domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT), fundus autofluorescence).
MAIN OUTCOMES MEASURES: Age of onset, annual decline of visual acuity, estimated visual impairment per age, genotype-phenotype correlations, anatomic characteristics on funduscopy, and multimodal imaging.
RESULTS: Fourteen patients with autosomal recessive LCA and 68 with autosomal dominant CORD were included. The median follow-up time was 5.2 years (interquartile range (IQR), 2.6-8.8) for LCA, and 7.2 years (IQR, 2.2-14.2) for CORD. Generally, LCA presented in the first year of life. The BCVA in LCA ranged from no light perception to 1.00 logMAR, and remained relatively stable during follow-up. Imaging for LCA was limited, but showed little to no structural degeneration. In CORD, progressive vision loss started around the second decade of life. The annual decline rate of visual acuity was 0.022 logMAR (P < 0.001), which did not differ between the c.2513G>A and the c.2512C>T GUCY2D variant (P = 0.798). At the age of 40 years the probability of being blind or severely visually impaired was 32%. The integrity of the ellipsoid zone (EZ) and external limiting membrane (ELM) on SD-OCT were correlated significantly with BCVA (Spearman's ρ = 0.744, P = 0.001 and ρ = 0.712, P < 0.001, respectively) in CORD.
CONCLUSION: LCA due to variants in GUCY2D results in severe congenital visual impairment with relatively intact macular anatomy on funduscopy and available imaging, suggesting a long preservation of photoreceptors. Despite large variability, GUCY2D-associated CORD generally presented during adolescence with a progressive loss of vision and culminated in severe visual impairment during mid to late-adulthood. The integrity of the ELM and EZ may be suitable structural endpoints for therapeutic studies in GUCY2D-associated CORD.