Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a retinal vascular disease which occurs in infants with a short gestational age and low birth weight and may lead to retinal detachment and blindness. In some premature infants, ROP progresses to advanced stages despite rigorous intervention, but in the majority, it spontaneously regresses before the threshold stage. Genetic factors, e.g. mutations in the Norrie disease (ND) gene, have been implicated in determining the progression of ROP to advanced stages. We have identified a novel C597A polymorphism of the ND gene; we screened this and another mutation in the ND gene, C110G, in 210 premature Kuwaiti infants using PCR-RFLP, DNA sequence analysis and DNA enzyme immunoassay hybridization to investigate their association with advanced-stage ROP. In this cohort of premature Kuwaiti newborns, 115 of 210 babies had no eye problems and served as controls, while 95 were found to have ROP. In 71 of the 95 ROP cases, the disease spontaneously regressed at or before stage 3, while in 24 of 95 ROP cases, the disease progressed to advanced stages 4 or 5. The incidence of the AA genotype of the C597A polymorphism was considerably higher in advanced-stage ROP cases (83.3%) compared to spontaneously regressing ROP cases (0%) and the normal controls (10.4%) (p < 0.0001). For the other genotypes, no significant difference was detected between the controls and ROP cases. In the case of the C110G mutation in the ND gene, no significant differences were detected between the controls and ROP cases, and the majority of subjects had a CC genotype in all three groups.
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