A histopathologic study of a choroideremia carrier

J. G. Flannery, A. C. Bird, D. B. Farber, R. G. Weleber, D. Bok

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70 Scopus citations


We have examined eyes from a heterozygote (carrier) of choroideremia, an X-linked disease. Gross examination revealed irregular pigmentation at the level of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) except at the posterior pole, and islands of well defined depigmentation of 1-4 mm in diameter in the midperiphery. The optic nerve and retinal blood vessels appeared normal, and there was minimal pigment migration into the retina. Histopathologic examination showed normal photoreceptors in the posterior and anterior funds, but the outer segments were short or absent in much of the equatorial region. Little gliosis was noted in areas of retinal atrophy. The RPE was abnormal, with irregular thickness and pigmentation associated with variable lipofuscin content from one RPE cell to another, as shown by fluorescence microscopy. There were areas of profound atrophy in the equatorial region, with abrupt transitions between relatively normal RPE and photoreceptors, and retina devoid of RPE and photoreceptors. Bruch's membrane was thickened to a greater extent than is common in age-related change. The choriocapillaris was normal in areas with normal photoreceptors, except for a widening of the intercapillary pillars. In those regions with abnormal photoreceptors, choroidal capillaries were fewer in number, had reduced luminal diameter, and fenestrae were sparse. In some areas of intense atrophy, there were no choroidal capillaries. The findings are compatible with the primary defect residing in the RPE. The Lyon hypothesis of X-chromosome inactivation and mosaicism could explain the irregularity of change and areas of intense atrophy, but abrupt demarcation between grossly abnormal, and relatively well preserved retina also occurs in hemizygotes (affected males).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • choroideremia
  • lyon hypothesis
  • photoreceptors
  • pigment epithelium
  • retinal degeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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