Autoantibodies against retinal bipolar cells in cutaneous melanoma- associated retinopathy

A. H. Milam, J. C. Saari, S. G. Jacobson, W. P. Lubinski, L. G. Feun, K. R. Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

202 Scopus citations


Purpose. This study's goal was to determine the pathophysiology of the retinopathy that occurs in patients with metastatic cutaneous melanoma and sudden onset of night blindness, the so-called melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR) syndrome. We tested the hypothesis that sera from two MAR patients contained autoantibodies that reacted with 'on' bipolar cells of the human retina. Methods. Immunofluorescence was performed on cryostat sections of unfixed normal human retinas. Sera and IgG fractions were tested from the two MAR patients and 38 control subjects (28 patients with metastatic melanoma, but no visual symptoms; two patients with non-MAR retinopathy; and eight normal subjects). Results. The sera and IgG fractions from both MAR patients but from none of the control subjects produced heavy immunostaining of bipolar cells, which were identified as rod bipolars by a double labeling procedure using anti-protein kinase C. Conclusions. We hypothesize that MAR patients generate autoantibodies against a melanoma antigen that cross react with bipolar cells of the retina. These antibodies, by an unknown mechanism, may cause abnormalities of the rod and cone systems that are characteristic of MAR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • autoantibodies
  • cancer-associated retinopathy
  • congenital stationary night blindness
  • melanoma-associated retinopathy
  • retinal bipolar cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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