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Multimodal imaging in a family with Cockayne syndrome with a novel pathogenic mutation in the ERCC8 gene, and significant phenotypic variability



Cockayne syndrome is a rare autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disorder caused by mutations of either the ERCC6/CSB or ERCC8/CSA genes. Here, we describe two sisters with Cockayne syndrome caused by compound heterozygous mutations in the ERCC8 gene using multimodal imaging. Significant ophthalmic and systemic phenotypic variability is discussed.

Materials and methods

Multimodal imaging was performed in two affected sisters and included electroretinography, optical coherence tomography, ultra-wide-field confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscopy, fundus autofluorescence and fluorescein angiography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Genetic analyses were performed on the affected sisters, both parents, and three unaffected siblings.


The older sister (Patient 1) had mental retardation, bilateral hearing loss, ataxia, and decreased visual acuity with retinal dystrophy. Radiographic studies revealed microcephaly, cerebral and cerebellar atrophy, ventriculomegaly, and a diffusely thickened skull. Full-field electroretinography waveforms were severely diminished with attenuation of cone and rod responses. The younger sister (Patient 2) had similar clinical features, including ataxia, bilateral hearing loss, and decreased visual acuity with retinal dystrophy. She also had paranoid schizophrenia. Wide-field fundus autofluorescence showed scattered areas of retinal pigment epithelium atrophy, which was different from her sister. Genetic analysis revealed two mutations in the ERCC8 gene shared by the sisters. These include an unreported missense point mutation: p.Thr328Ser:c.983C > G, and another previously reported pathogenic missense mutation: p.Ala205Pro:c.613G > C. Familial testing showed in trans segregation of these mutations with unaffected siblings inheriting one or neither mutation, but not both.


The clinical presentation and genetic studies confirmed a diagnosis of Cockayne syndrome in both sisters caused by compound heterozygous mutations in the ERCC8 gene on chromosome 10. Multimodal ocular imaging and systemic findings revealed wide phenotypic variability between the affected siblings.

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Correspondence to Soungmin Cho.

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Cho, S., Traboulsi, E.I., Chiang, J. et al. Multimodal imaging in a family with Cockayne syndrome with a novel pathogenic mutation in the ERCC8 gene, and significant phenotypic variability. Doc Ophthalmol 141, 89–97 (2020).

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  • Cockayne syndrome
  • Optical coherence tomography
  • Electroretinography
  • Fundus autofluorescence
  • Retinal dystrophy
  • ERCC8