Macular corneal dystrophy. Lack of keratan sulfate in serum and cornea

G. K. Klintworth, R. Meyer, R. Dennis, A. T. Hewitt, E. L. Stock, M. E. Lenz, J. R. Hassell, W. J. Stark, K. E. Kuettner, E. J. Thonar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


An ELISA assay using a monoclonal antibody (ET-4-A-4) that recognizes a sulfated carbohydrate epitope both keratan sulfate type I (corneal) and type II (skeletal) was employed to quantify keratan sulfate in serum and corneal tissue from patients with macular corneal dystrophy (MCD). This assay disclosed significant quantities of keratan sulfate in the serum in 45 healthy individuals (251 ± 78 ng/ml), and in 66 patients with various corneal diseases (273 ± 101 ng/ml). In contrast keratan sulfate was not detected (< 2 ng/ml) in the serum of 16 patients with histopathologically confirmed MCD. Keratan sulfate was also detected in extracts of normal corneas and corneal tissue with a variety of pathologic conditions, but was virtually absent in corneal tissue from five patients with MCD. In corneas with MCD the chondroitin sulfate/keratan sulfate ratio was considerably higher than that of all normal and pathologic corneas studied. Since keratan sulfate in the serum appears to be derived predominantly from the normal turnover of cartilage these studies strongly suggest that the defect in keratan sulfate synthesis in MCD is not restricted to corneal cells and that MCD is one manifestation of a systemic disorder of keratan sulfate. The cartilage changes, however, do not have clinical significance. Moreover, since keratan sulfate can be detected in the blood of newborns it should be possible to diagnose MCD prior to corneal opacification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-143
Number of pages5
JournalOphthalmic Paediatrics and Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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