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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Feb 1;97(3):1224-9.

Correction of ornithine accumulation prevents retinal degeneration in a mouse model of gyrate atrophy of the choroid and retina.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.


Deficiency of ornithine-delta-aminotransferase (OAT) in humans results in gyrate atrophy of the choroid and retina (GA), an autosomal recessive disorder characterized by ornithine accumulation and a progressive chorioretinal degeneration of unknown pathogenesis. To determine whether chronic, systemic reduction of ornithine can prevent this form of retinal degeneration, we used an arginine-restricted diet to maintain long term reduction of ornithine in a mouse model of OAT-deficiency (Oat(-/-)) produced by gene targeting. We evaluated the mice over a 12-month period by measurement of plasma amino acids, electroretinograms, and retinal histologic and ultrastructural studies. We found that an arginine-restricted diet substantially reduces plasma ornithine levels and completely prevents retinal degeneration in Oat(-/-). This result indicates that ornithine accumulation is a necessary factor in the pathophysiology of the retinal degeneration in GA and that restoration of OAT activity in retina is not required for effective treatment of GA.

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