Retinal nerve fibre layer loss in hereditary spastic paraplegias is restricted to complex phenotypes.
Wiethoff S., Zhour A., Schöls L., Fischer MD.
BACKGROUND: Reduction of retinal nerve fibre layer (RNFL) thickness was shown as part of the neurodegenerative process in a range of different neurodegenerative pathologies including Alzheimer's disease (AD), idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA) and multiple system atrophy (MSA). To further clarify the specificity of RNFL thinning as a potential marker of neurodegenerative diseases we investigated RNFL thickness in Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), an axonal, length-dependent neurodegenerative pathology of the upper motor neurons. METHODS: Spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) was performed in 28 HSP patients (clinically: pure HSP = 22, complicated HSP = 6; genetic subtypes: SPG4 = 13, SPG5 = 1, SPG7 = 3, genetically unclassified: 11) to quantify peripapillary RNFL thickness. Standardized examination assessed duration of disease, dependency on assistive walking aids and severity of symptoms quantified with Spastic Paraplegia Rating Scale (SPRS). RESULTS: HSP patients demonstrated no significant thinning of global RNFL (pglobal = 0.61). Subgroup analysis revealed significant reduction in temporal and temporal inferior sectors for patients with complex (p<0.05) but not pure HSP phenotypes. Two of three SPG7-patients showed severe temporal and temporal inferior RNFL loss. Disease duration, age and severity of symptoms were not significantly correlated with global RNFL thickness. CONCLUSION: Clinically pure HSP patients feature no significant reduction in RNFL, whereas complex phenotypes display an abnormal thinning of temporal and temporal inferior RNFL. Our data indicate that RNFL thinning does not occur unspecifically in all neurodegenerative diseases but is in HSP restricted to subtypes with multisystemic degeneration.