Macular crystalline inclusions in Sjögren-Larsson syndrome are dynamic structures that undergo remodeling

Shaza N. Al-Holou, Edward Siefker, Samiksha Fouzdar-Jain, Donny W. Suh, William B. Rizzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Sjögren-Larsson syndrome (SLS) is a rare genetic neurocutaneous disease caused by mutations in ALDH3A2 that results in deficiency of fatty aldehyde dehydrogenase and accumulation of fatty aldehydes and alcohols. The disease is associated with ichthyosis, spasticity, and intellectual disability. Patients exhibit a characteristic retinopathy with macular crystalline inclusions that first appear in early childhood and increase with age. Once formed, the inclusions are thought to be inert and irreversible. We sought to document how the crystalline inclusions change over time. Materials and Methods: Serial retinal photographs of 4 SLS subjects (9–23 years old) were taken over a period of 1–3 years. Images were compared by visual inspection and analyzed using ImageJ/Fiji software to observe changes. Results: Visual inspection of retinal photographs of SLS subjects taken over time demonstrated distinctive changes in crystalline inclusions. New inclusions were formed and some established inclusions regressed. These changes were conveniently demonstrated with software-based photographic image analysis. Conclusions: We conclude that macular inclusions in SLS are not simply inert deposits, but are dynamic structures that form over time and are subject to remodeling. This conclusion provides new insight into the interplay between the metabolic defect and retinal pathology in SLS, and raises the potential for new therapeutic approaches to reverse some aspects of the maculopathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-385
Number of pages5
JournalOphthalmic genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 3 2020


  • ALDH3A2
  • Fatty alcohol
  • fatty aldehyde
  • image analysis
  • maculopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Ophthalmology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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