Birdshot uveitis: current and emerging treatment options
Victor Menezo,1,2 Simon RJ Taylor3,4
1Institut Catala de Retina, Barcelona, Spain; 2Department of Ophthalmology, Provincial Hospital Consortium Castellon, Castello, Spain; 3Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK; 4Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guildford, UK
Abstract: Birdshot chorioretinopathy is a relatively uncommon subtype of idiopathic posterior uveitis with distinct clinical characteristics and a strong genetic association with the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-A29 allele. The diagnosis remains clinical and is based on the presence of typical clinical features, including multiple, distinctive, hypopigmented choroidal lesions throughout the fundus. The long-term visual prognosis of this disorder, however, remains guarded – central visual acuity can be preserved until late in the disease and it is not uncommon for patients to receive inadequate immunosuppressive treatment, leading to a poor long-term outcome in which peripheral retinal damage eventually leads to visual deterioration. Birdshot chorioretinopathy has proven a particularly attractive area of study within the field of uveitis, as it is a relatively easily defined disease with an associated human leukocyte antigen haplotype. Despite this, however, the immune mechanisms involved in its pathogenesis remain unclear, and some patients continue to lose retinal function despite therapy with corticosteroids and conventional immunosuppressive agents. Laboratory research continues to investigate the underlying mechanisms of disease, and clinical research is now being driven to improve the phenotyping and monitoring of this condition as, in the era of so-called personalized medicine, it is becoming increasingly important to identify patients at risk of visual loss early so that they can be treated more aggressively with targeted therapies such as the newer biological agents. This approach requires the formation of collaborative groups, as the relative rarity of the condition makes it difficult for one center to accumulate enough patients for worthwhile studies. Nevertheless, results obtained with newer therapies, such as biological agents directed against particular cytokines or cell-surface receptors, demonstrate ever improving control of the inflammation in refractory cases, providing hope that the outlook for visual function in this condition can only improve.
Keywords: birdshot chorioretinopathy, HLA-A29, retinal vasculitis, Th17 cells, monoclonal antibodies, interleukin antagonists
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