Risk Factors and Disease Course for Blood-Brain Barrier Disruption-Associated Maculopathy

Joseph M. Simonett, Alison H. Skalet, Brandon J. Lujan, Edward A. Neuwelt, Prakash Ambady, Phoebe Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Importance: Blood-brain barrier disruption (BBBD) is a systemic therapy for malignant central nervous system (CNS) tumors that has been linked to poorly understood pigmentary maculopathy. Objectives: To examine the rate of and risk factors for the development of BBBD-associated maculopathy and to assess whether there can be visually significant progression after completion of systemic therapy. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this retrospective case series, data from February 1, 2006, through December 31, 2019, were collected from patients treated with osmotic BBBD at a single tertiary referral center who had subsequent ophthalmic evaluation. Exposures: Treatment with BBBD therapy for any malignant CNS tumor. Main Outcomes and Measures: Rate and potential risk factors for developing BBBD-associated maculopathy and changes in visual acuity and retinal imaging characteristics after completion of BBBD therapy. Results: Of 283 patients treated with BBBD and chemotherapy for a CNS malignant neoplasm, 68 (mean [SD] age, 46.0 [17.9] years; 25 [38.5%] female) had an ophthalmic examination after starting systemic therapy. After excluding 3 patients because of bilateral media opacities, pigmentary maculopathy was present in 32 of 65 patients (49.2%) treated with BBBD. The number of BBBD treatment sessions, but not age, CNS malignant cancer type, or systemic chemotherapy agent, was associated with maculopathy development (odds ratio, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.12-1.50; P =.001). After completion of BBBD therapy, progressive enlargement of geographic atrophy occurred in 5 eyes of 3 patients, and choroidal neovascularization developed in 1 eye. Conclusions and Relevance: In this case series, an association was found between BBBD-related maculopathy and the number of BBBD treatment sessions, suggesting a dose-dependent effect. In some cases, maculopathy progression, including enlargement of geographic atrophy, occurred years after completion of systemic therapy. These findings may have important implications for patient education and ophthalmic monitoring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-149
Number of pages7
JournalJAMA ophthalmology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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