Albinism, typically characterized by decreased melanin synthesis, is associated with significant visual deficits owing to developmental changes during neurosensory retina development. All albinism is caused by genetic mutations in a group of diverse genes including enzymes, transporters, G-protein coupled receptor. Interestingly, these genes are not expressed in the neurosensory retina. Further, regardless of cause of albinism, all forms of albinism have the same retinal pathology, the extent of which is variable. In this review, we explore the possibility that this similarity in retinal phenotype is because all forms of albinism funnel through the same final common pathway. There are currently seven known genes linked to the seven forms of ocular cutaneous albinism. These types of albinism are the most common, and result in changes to all pigmented tissues (hair, skin, eyes). We will discuss the incidence and mechanism, where known, to develop a picture as to how the mutations cause albinism. Next, we will examine the one form of albinism which causes tissue-specific pathology, ocular albinism, where the eye exhibits the retinal albinism phenotype despite near normal melanin synthesis. We will discuss a potential way to treat the disease and restore normal retinal development. Finally, we will briefly discuss the possibility that this same pathway may intersect with the most common cause of permanent vision loss in the elderly.
- pigment epithelial derived factor
- retinal pigment epithelium
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience