J Med Genet 47:120-125 doi:10.1136/jmg.2009.067512
  • Letter to JMG

OPA1 increases the risk of normal but not high tension glaucoma

  1. P F Chinnery1,4
  1. 1Mitochondrial Research Group, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
  2. 2Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle, UK
  3. 3Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK
  4. 4Institute of Human Genetics, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor P F Chinnery, Mitochondrial Research Group, The Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK; p.f.chinnery{at}
  • Received 28 March 2009
  • Revised 18 June 2009
  • Accepted 28 June 2009
  • Published Online First 5 July 2009


Background Primary open angle glaucoma is a progressive optic neuropathy characterised by the selective loss of retinal ganglion cells, pathological optic disc cupping and visual field defects. The OPA1 gene encodes an inner mitochondrial membrane protein crucial for normal mitochondrial function, and pathogenic mutations cause autosomal dominant optic atrophy by specifically targeting retinal ganglion cells. This raises the distinct possibility that more subtle genetic variations in OPA1 could alter the risk of developing glaucoma.

Methods 137 patients with primary open angle glaucoma (67 patients with high-tension glaucoma (HTG), 70 patients with normal-tension glaucoma (NTG)) and 75 controls from the North East of England were studied. Three single-nucleotide polymorphisms in intron 8 (IVS8+4c→t and IVS8+32t→c) and exon 4 (c.473A→G) of the OPA1 gene were genotyped in the study group. In addition, the entire OPA1 coding region was sequenced in 24 individuals with the CT/TT compound genotype using standard BigDye chemistries.

Results There was no difference in either allele or genotype frequency for the IVS8+32t→c single-nucleotide polymorphisms between patients and controls, but there was a significant association between the T allele at IVS8+4c→t and the risk of developing NTG (OR=2.04, 95% CI=1.10 to 3.81, p=0.004), but not HTG. Logistic regression analysis also confirmed a strong association between the CT/TT compound genotype at IVS8+4 and IVS8+32 with NTG (OR=29.75, 95% CI=3.83 to 231.21, p=0.001).

Conclusions The CT/TT compound genotype at IVS8+4 and IVS8+32 is a strong genetic risk determinant for NTG but not HTG.


  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.