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Schnyder corneal crystalline dystrophy (SCCD) comprises corneal opacities often associated with precocious arcus senilis and genua valga. The metabolic defect seems to be related to abnormal lipid storage in the central part of the cornea, especially the anterior stroma, consisting mainly of nonesterified cholesterol. Plasma lipid levels are not always increased suggesting that the disease may be due to abnormal lipid metabolism limited to the cornea. We observed a family with typical SCCD, in 1 case associated with mental retardation and mild cerebellar hypoplasia. Results of serum lipid analysis of all patients were normal. Ultrastructural study of a skin biopsy specimen and fibroblast pellet showed membrane-bound spherical vacuoles containing lipid material. Cultured fibroblasts stained by filipin, a fluorescent probe that specifically binds unesterified cholesterol, showed abnormal cytoplasmic fluorescent material, suggesting abnormal cholesterol metabolism. The presence of neurological impairment, associated with SCCD in 1 of our cases, may be regarded as coincidental. Evidence of storage lipids in skin and cultured fibroblasts suggests that the disorder of intracellular cholesterol metabolism is not limited to the cornea and that skin biopsy may be a useful method to confirm the diagnosis.


Journal article


Am J Med Genet

Publication Date





35 - 39


Adult, Blood Chemical Analysis, Child, Cholesterol Esters, Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary, Female, Fibroblasts, Histocytochemistry, Humans, Lipid Metabolism, Inborn Errors, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Microscopy, Electron, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Middle Aged, Pedigree, Skin, Visual Acuity