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A Genome-Wide Association Study of Fuchs' Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD)

Fuchs' Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD) is a common disease that results in loss of vision associated with progressive corneal edema and loss of corneal transparency. In the initial stages of the disease, excrescences on Descemet's membrane with the appearance of an abnormal posterior collagenous layer, result in the clinical and pathologic appearance of guttae. Corneal edema ensues as endothelial function is compromised that may result in stromal edema, epithelial edema, and painful bullous keratopathy. Penetrating or endothelial keratoplasty is the only definitive treatment, with palliative care the only option prior to surgery. The pathophysiology underlying FECD, particularly in the common cases that affect older individuals, remains unknown, with a genetic predisposition being reported as the single best predictor of disease.

Three independent groups funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), with well-established programs in the genetics of FECD, conducted a genome-wide association study of FECD. The collaboration comprised investigators from Case Western University (CWRU), Duke University (DUEC), and Johns Hopkins University (JHU). CWRU and DUEC contributed samples that were genotyped at CIDR for the GWAS. Johns Hopkins University (JHU) provided samples for the replication phase of the study, where their data are not listed in dbGaP. Cohorts of FECD cases and controls were assembled. Synchronization of clinical and coded data was performed to unify the information across centers. The family history, clinical, demographic information, and genome-wide genotype data for samples from CWRU and DUEC were deposited in dbGaP.