Optic Neuropathy Associated with POLG Mutations: A Case Series and Literature Review

J Neuroophthalmol. 2024 Jan 31. doi: 10.1097/WNO.0000000000002089. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The clinical characteristics of patients with polymerase gamma (POLG) mutation-associated optic neuropathy remain incompletely characterized.

METHODS: We describe the clinical characteristics of 3 patients with POLG-associated optic neuropathy. We performed a literature review of optic neuropathy cases associated with POLG mutations and compared them with our cohort.

RESULTS: Many published cases of POLG-associated optic neuropathy in our literature review lacked details regarding severity of vision loss, visual field defects, and optical coherence tomography analysis. The clinical presentation of POLG mutations remains widely variable in age (from pediatric cases to adults) and associated systemic findings. All patients in our literature review presented with systemic symptoms, most commonly muscle weakness, ptosis, and ophthalmoplegia, whereas many young patients had severe systemic symptoms. In our case series, all 3 cases had isolated optic neuropathy affecting the papillomacular bundle, with signs such as reduced visual acuity and color vision, central visual field defects, temporal retinal nerve fiber layer loss with temporal optic disc pallor, and retinal ganglion cell complex loss. In addition, 2 of the 3 cases had added mitochondrial stressors in addition to the POLG mutation.

CONCLUSIONS: Clinicians should be aware that POLG mutations can present as isolated optic neuropathy primarily affecting the papillomacular bundle. With mitochondrial failure being the likely underlying pathogenic mechanism in POLG-associated optic neuropathy, helping affected patients eliminate mitochondrial stressors may be important in reducing the risk for progressive vision loss in this otherwise currently untreatable disorder.

PMID:38294884 | DOI:10.1097/WNO.0000000000002089