Stargardt's disease is an autosomal recessive condition characterised by a rapid and bilateral loss of central vision at around 7 to 12 years, with typical changes in the macular and perimacular region. It is one of the most frequent causes of macular degeneration in childhood and accounts for 7% of all retinal dystrophies. Considering that inclusions of lipofuscin-like substances are observed in retinal pigmentary cells of patients with Stargardt's disease on the one hand, and that the early symptoms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CLN3) are suggestive of Stargardt's disease on the other hand (age of loss of visual acuity, appearance of the fundus), we decided to test allelism of Stargardt's disease with the infantile (CLN1) and juvenile forms of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (CLN3), which map to chromosomes 1p32 and 16p12-p11 respectively. Using highly informative microsatellite DNA markers in eight multiplex families, we were able to exclude Stargardt's disease from the vicinity of the CLN1 and CLN3 loci. These results strongly reject the hypothesis of allelism of Stargardt's disease with the neuronal forms of ceroid lipofuscinosis.
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