Human melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR) antibodies alter the retinal ON-response of the monkey ERG in vivo

Bo Lei, Ronald A. Bush, Ann H. Milam, Paul A. Sieving

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. Melanoma-associated retinopathy (MAR) is a paraneoplastic condition that causes visual symptoms of night-blindness and photopsias. The electroretinogram (ERG) of MAR patients is characteristically abnormal in a way that implicates retinal depolarizing bipolar cell (DBC) dysfunction. Whether an injection of IgG from MAR patients into the vitreous of monkeys would alter the ERG acutely as a demonstration of a functional basis for patients' visual symptoms was explored. METHODS. MAR IgG was isolated from three visually symptomatic melanoma patients. Control IgG was from melanoma patients with no vision problems. The ERG was monitored after intravitreal injections into monkey eyes. One eye was injected with 2-amino-4- phosphonobutyric acid (APB), which is known to block DBC ON-pathway responses. Retinal immunocytochemistry was performed using fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled goat anti-human IgG. RESULTS. Within 1 to 3 hours after MAR IgG injection, the ERG photopic b-wave was diminished, with far less effect on the a- and d-waves. These changes are characteristic of DBC dysfunction and were similar to the effects of APB. The scotopic ERG b-wave, which reflects activity, of rod-driven DBCs, showed a loss of amplitude and threshold sensitivity after MAR IgG. Retinal immunocytochemistry with anti- IgG antibody showed IgG penetration throughout the retinal layers, but staining was not specific for a single type of retinal neuron. CONCLUSIONS. Intravitreal injection of human MAR IgG altered the monkey ERG acutely in ways that implicate functional disruption of retinal DBC signaling. These results support the hypothesis that MAR IgG circulating antibodies are responsible for the reported visual symptoms. Bipolar cells in the ON-pathway appear to be affected more than OFF-pathway bipolar cells of the cone pathway in this acute preparation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-266
Number of pages5
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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