[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) due to corneal endothelial cell degeneration is a major cause of corneal transplantation. It is characterized by abnormal deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM), such as corneal guttae, accompanied by a loss of endothelial cells. Although recent studies have revealed several genomic factors, the molecular pathophysiology of FECD has not yet been revealed. In this study, we establish a cellular in vitro model by using immortalized corneal endothelial cells obtained from late-onset FECD and control patients and examined the involvement of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) on excessive ECM production. We demonstrate that the EMT-inducing genes ZEB1 and SNAI1 were highly expressed in corneal endothelial cells in FECD and were involved in excessive production of ECM proteins, such as type I collagen and fibronectin through the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling pathway. Furthermore, we found that SB431542, a specific inhibitor of TGF-β type I ALK receptors, suppressed the expression of ZEB1 and Snail1 followed by reduced production of ECM. These findings suggest that increased expression levels of ZEB1 and Snail1 in FECD cells were responsible for an increased responsiveness to TGF-β present in the aqueous humor and excessive production of ECM. In addition, these results suggest that the regulation of EMT-related genes by blocking the TGF-β signaling pathway may be a feasible therapeutic strategy for FECD.Laboratory Investigation advance online publication, 24 August 2015; doi:10.1038/labinvest.2015.111.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study investigated changes in collagen fibril architecture and the sulphation status of keratan sulphate (KS) glycosaminoglycan (GAG) epitopes from central to peripheral corneal regions. Freshly excised adult bovine corneal tissue was examined as a function of radial position from the centre of the cornea outwards. Corneal thickness, tissue hydration, hydroxyproline content, and the total amount of sulphated GAG were all measured. High and low-sulphated epitopes of keratan sulphate were studied by immunohistochemistry and quantified by ELISA. Chondroitin sulphate (CS) and dermatan sulphate (DS) distributions were observed by immunohistochemistry following specific enzyme digestions. Electron microscopy and x-ray fibre diffraction were used to ascertain collagen fibril architecture. The bovine cornea was 1021 ± 5.42 μm thick at its outer periphery, defined as 9-12 mm from the corneal centre, compared to 844 ± 8.10 μm at the centre. The outer periphery of the cornea was marginally, but not significantly, more hydrated than the centre (H = 4.3 vs. H = 3.7), and was more abundant in hydroxyproline (0.12 vs. 0.06 mg/mg dry weight of cornea). DMMB assays indicated no change in the total amount of sulphated GAG across the cornea. Immunohistochemistry revealed the presence of both high- and low-sulphated epitopes of KS, as well as DS, throughout the cornea, and CS only in the peripheral cornea before the limbus. Quantification by ELISA, disclosed that although both high- and low-sulphated KS remained constant throughout stromal depth at different radial positions, high-sulphated epitopes remained constant from the corneal centre to outer-periphery, whereas low-sulphated epitopes increased significantly. Both small angle x-ray diffraction and TEM analysis revealed that collagen fibril diameter remained relatively constant until the outer periphery was reached, after which fibrils became more widely spaced (from small angle x-ray diffraction analysis) and of larger diameter as they approached the sclera. Depth-profiled synchrotron microbeam analyses showed that, at different radial positions from the corneal centre outwards, fibril diameter was greater superficially than in deeper stromal regions. The interfibrillar spacing was also higher at mid-depth in the stroma than it was in anterior and posterior stromal regions. Collagen fibrils in the bovine cornea exhibited a fairly consistent spacing and diameter from the corneal centre to the 12 mm radial position, after which a significant increase was seen. While the constancy of the overall sulphation levels of proteoglycans in the cornea may correlate with the fibrillar architecture, there was no correlation between the latter and the distribution of low-sulphated KS.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose
Type VI collagen is a primary component of the extracellular matrix of many connective tissues. It can form distinct aggregates depending on tissue structure, chemical environment, and physiology. In the current study we examine the ultrastructure and mode of aggregation of type VI collagen molecules in the human trabecular meshwork.
Trabecular meshwork was dissected from donor human eyes, and three-dimensional transmission electron microscopy of type VI collagen aggregates was performed.
Electron-dense collagen structures were detected in the human trabecular meshwork and identified as collagen type VI assemblies based on the three-dimensional spatial arrangement of the type VI collagen molecules, the 105-nm axial periodicity of the assemblies themselves, and their characteristic double bands, which arose from the globular domains of the type VI collagen molecules. Sulfated proteoglycans were also seen to associate with the assemblies either with the globular domain or the inner rod-like segments of the tetramers.
No extended structural regularity in the organization of type VI collagen assemblies within the trabecular meshwork was evident, and the lateral separation of the tetramers forming the assemblies varied, as did the angle formed by the main axes of adjacent tetramers. This is potentially reflective of the specific nature of the trabecular meshwork environment, which facilitates aqueous outflow from the eye, and we speculate that extracellular matrix ions and proteins might prevent a more tight packing of type VI collagen tetramers that form the assemblies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genome-wide association studies have identified common variants in transcription factor 4 (TCF4) as susceptibility loci for schizophrenia, Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy, and primary sclerosing cholangitis. By contrast, rare TCF4 mutations cause Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a disorder characterized by intellectual disability and developmental delay, and have also been described in patients with other neurodevelopmental disorders. TCF4 therefore sits at the nexus between common and rare disorders. TCF4 interacts with other basic helix-loop-helix proteins, forming transcriptional networks that regulate the differentiation of several distinct cell types. Here, we review the role of TCF4 in these seemingly diverse disorders and discuss recent data implicating TCF4 as an important regulator of neurodevelopment and epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Trends in Molecular Medicine 03/2014; 20(6). DOI:10.1016/j.molmed.2014.01.010 · 9.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell-directed deposition of aligned collagen fibrils during corneal embryogenesis is poorly understood, despite the fact that it is the basis for the formation of a corneal stroma that must be transparent to visible light and biomechanically stable. Previous studies of the structural development of the specialized matrix in the cornea have been restricted to examinations of tissue sections by conventional light or electron microscopy. Here, we use volume scanning electron microscopy, with sequential removal of ultrathin surface tissue sections achieved either by ablation with a focused ion beam or by serial block face diamond knife microtomy, to examine the microanatomy of the cornea in three dimensions and in large tissue volumes. The results show that corneal keratocytes occupy a significantly greater tissue volume than was previously thought, and there is a clear orthogonality in cell and matrix organization, quantifiable by Fourier analysis. Three-dimensional reconstructions reveal actin-associated tubular cell protrusions, reminiscent of filopodia, but extending more than 30 µm into the extracellular space. The highly extended network of these membrane-bound structures mirrors the alignment of collagen bundles and emergent lamellae and, we propose, plays a fundamental role in dictating the orientation of collagen in the developing cornea.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2014; 111(2). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1313561110 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The chemical composition of tissues can influence their form and function. As a prime example, the lattice-like arrangement of collagen fibrils required for corneal transparency is controlled, in part, by sulfated proteoglycans, which, via core proteins, bind to the collagen at specific locations along the fibril axis. However, to date, no studies have been able to directly identify and characterize sulfur (S) in the cornea as a function of tissue location. In this study, X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy and micro-beam X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) chemical contrast imaging were employed to probe the nature of the mature (bovine) cornea as a function of position from the anterior sub-epithelial region into the deep stroma. Data indicate an inhomogeneity in the composition of S species in the first ≈50 μm of stromal depth. In μ-XRF chemical contrast imaging, S did not co-localize with phosphorous (P) in the deep stroma where sulfates are prominent. Rather, P is present only as isolated micrometric spots, presumably identifiable as keratocytes. This study lends novel insights into the elemental physiology of mature cornea, especially in relation to its S distribution; future studies could be applied to human tissues. Moreover, it defines an analytical protocol for the interrogation of S species in biological tissues with micrometric resolution.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To examine the effect of riboflavin/UVA corneal crosslinking on stromal ultrastructure and hydrodynamic behaviour.
One hundred and seventeen enucleated ungulate eyes (112 pig and 5 sheep) and 3 pairs of rabbit eyes, with corneal epithelium removed, were divided into four treatment groups: Group 1 (28 pig, 2 sheep and 3 rabbits) were untreated; Group 2 (24 pig) were exposed to UVA light (3.04 mW/cm(2)) for 30 minutes and Group 3 (29 pig) and Group 4 (31 pig, 3 sheep and 3 rabbits) had riboflavin eye drops applied to the corneal surface every 5 minutes for 35 minutes. Five minutes after the initial riboflavin instillation, the corneas in Group 4 experienced a 30 minute exposure to UVA light (3.04 mW/cm(2)). X-ray scattering was used to obtain measurements of collagen interfibrillar spacing, spatial order, fibril diameter, D-periodicity and intermolecular spacing throughout the whole tissue thickness and as a function of tissue depth in the treated and untreated corneas. The effect of each treatment on the hydrodynamic behaviour of the cornea (its ability to swell in saline solution) and its resistance to enzymatic digestion were assessed using in vitro laboratory techniques.
Corneal thickness decreased significantly following riboflavin application (p<0.01) and also to a lesser extent after UVA exposure (p<0.05). With the exception of the spatial order factor, which was higher in Group 4 than Group 1 (p<0.01), all other measured collagen parameters were unaltered by cross-linking, even within the most anterior 300 microns of the cornea. The cross-linking treatment had no effect on the hydrodynamic behaviour of the cornea but did cause a significant increase in its resistance to enzymatic digestion.
It seems likely that cross-links formed during riboflavin/UVA therapy occur predominantly at the collagen fibril surface and in the protein network surrounding the collagen.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e52860. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0052860 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Purpose:
To determine the short-term fate of the host endothelium and Descemet membrane after non-Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (nDSAEK).
Eight unilateral DSAEK (n = 4) or nDSAEK (n = 4) surgeries were performed in the right eyes of 8 rabbits. Corneal transparency and thickness were followed-up by slit-lamp microscopy, and 2 weeks postoperatively, corneas were evaluated by immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy.
Corneas remained clear after both DSAEK and nDSAEK. One week after DSAEK, the stroma-to-stroma surgical interface was identifiable as a zone of fibrotic tissue a few microns thick, whereas in the nDSAEK group, the recipient corneal endothelium and Descemet membrane were clearly visible at the graft-host interface. The retained endothelial cells were positive for Na/K-ATPase but assumed a markedly different morphology from healthy endothelial cells, with cell processes extending into the graft stroma or engulfing strands of irregularly dissected grafted stromal tissue where they occasionally appeared to compartmentalize the transplanted matrix and became detached from the underlying Descemet membrane.
Host endothelial cells 2 weeks after nDSAEK express markers of pump function, but appear to be morphologically altered, occasionally detaching from the adjacent Descemet membrane, extending into the graft stroma or engulfing strands of the grafted stroma at the interface. The short-term persistence and subsequent phenotypical alternation of residual endothelial cells, aligned to structural changes to Descemet membrane, might influence graft adherence after nDSAEK.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The chemical composition and sulfur (S) speciation of developing chick corneas at embryonic days 12, 14, and 16 were investigated using synchrotron scanning x-ray fluorescence microscopy and x-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy. The aim was to develop techniques for the analysis of bulk tissue and identify critical physicochemical variations that correlate with changes in corneal structure-function relationships. Derived data were subjected to principal component analysis and linear discriminant analysis, which highlighted differences in the elemental and S species composition at different stages of embryonic growth. Notably, distinct elemental compositions of chlorine, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and S altered with development during the transition of the immature opaque cornea to a mature transparent tissue. S structure spectroscopy revealed developmentally regulated alterations in thiols, organic monosulfides, ester sulfate, and inorganic sulfate species. The transient molecular structures and compositional changes reported here provide a deeper understanding of the underlying basis of corneal development during the acquisition of transparency. The experimental and analytical approach is new, to our knowledge, and has wide potential applicability in the life sciences.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our study examined the effect of a selective Rho kinase inhibitor, Y-27632, on corneal wound healing and potential stromal scarring after superficial keratectomy.
Rabbit keratocytes were induced into myofibroblasts by transforming growth factor β1 (TGFβ1) either with or without Y-27632. Then α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) was examined by immunohistochemistry and western blotting, and the contractility of the seeded collagen gels was measured. Y-27632 eye drops (or vehicle only) were administered to eyes after a superficial keratectomy, and the tissue was examined by immunohistochemistry for α-SMA, collagen types I, II, and III, and keratan sulfate. Electron microscopy was conducted with and without histochemical contrasting of sulfated proteoglycans.
Spindle-like cells in culture constituted 99.5±1.1% with TGFβ1 stimulation, but 3.5±1.0% after TGFβ1 and Y-27632 treatment (p<0.01, n=6). α-SMA was seen in 4% of TGFβ1-treated cells, but in only 0.3% of cells with Y-27632 added (p<0.01, n=6), which was confirmed by western blotting. Y-27632 also inhibited the TGFβ1-induced contraction of seeded collagen gels. After superficial keratectomies, collagen type I and keratan sulfate were unchanged by Y-27632 application. Collagen type II was not detected in Y-27632 or vehicle-only corneas. With Y-27632 treatment, α-SMA expression increased and the collagen type III signal became in the weaker subepithelial area. Interestingly, bundles of aligned and uniformly spaced collagen fibrils were more prevalent in keratocytes in Y-27632-treated corneas, which is reminiscent of fibripositor-like structures that have been proposed as a mechanism of matrix deposition in embryonic connective tissues.
Y-27632 inhibits keratocyte-to-myofibroblast transition, and its topical application after a superficial lamellar keratectomy elicits an altered wound healing response, with evidence of an embryonic-type deposition of collagen fibrils.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article investigates in vitro light transmission through the human cornea in the ultraviolet (UV) portion of the electromagnetic spectrum as a function of position across the cornea from center to periphery. Spectrophotometry was used to measure UV transmission in the wavelength range 310-400 nm, from the central cornea to its periphery. UV transmission decreases away from the center, and this is attributed to scattering and absorbance. Corneal endothelial cells, which line the back of the cornea and are more numerous in the periphery, therefore receive a lower dose of UV than do those in the central cornea. This is consistent with the recent observation that endothelial cells in the corneal periphery exhibit less nuclear oxidative DNA damage than those in the central cornea.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biospectroscopy tools are increasingly being recognized as novel approaches toward interrogating complex biological structures in a nondestructive fashion. This study was conducted to apply these tools to interrogate alterations in the molecular signatures of developing chick corneas during the onset and development of transparency.
Embryonic chick corneas (n = 46) were obtained at 2-day intervals from embryonic day (E)10 to E18 of incubation and investigated with attenuated total reflection Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy and Raman microspectroscopy. Resultant spectra were analyzed for variance by using principal component analysis and linear discriminant analysis (PCA-LDA).
Mean spectra after ATR-FTIR spectroscopy or Raman microspectroscopy derived from corneas at each developmental stage showed some overlap; however, in PCA-LDA scores plots, a clear segregation of spectra was evident, and two-category discrimination indicated that significant molecular alterations occur during tissue morphogenesis. Notable by both techniques was the increasing intensity of DNA signal (1080 cm⁻¹) from E10 onward. Major segregating biomarkers identified by ATR-FTIR spectroscopy between E10 and E18 were in the DNA/RNA (1126 cm⁻¹), glycogen (1045 cm⁻¹), protein (1470 cm⁻¹), and amide II (1512 cm⁻¹ and 1524 cm⁻¹) spectral regions. Raman spectroscopy also identified major distinguishing vibrational modes that included proteins, amino acids (tyrosine, proline phenylalanine, and valine), and secondary structures of proteins (amide I and amide II).
The developing chick cornea undergoes significant changes in its biomolecular composition in the E10 to E18 developmental period, with the major changes occurring in the spectral regions associated with DNA/RNA, proteins, glycogen, and secondary protein structures.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have discovered that a combination of fibroblast growth factor 2 and transforming growth factor β1 induce profound morphologic changes in immature articular cartilage. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that these changes represent accelerated postnatal maturation.
Histochemical and biochemical assays were used to confirm the nature of the morphologic changes that accompany growth factor stimulation of immature bovine articular cartilage explants in serum-free culture medium. Growth factor-induced apoptosis, cellular proliferation, and changes in the collagen network were also quantitatively analyzed.
Growth factor stimulation resulted in rapid resorption from the basal aspect of immature cartilage explants that was simultaneously opposed by cellular proliferation from the apical aspect driven from a pool of chondroprogenitor cells we have previously described. Maturation-dependent changes in tissue stiffness, collagen crosslinking, and collagen fibril architecture as well as differentiation of the extracellular matrix into distinct pericellular, territorial, and interterritorial domains were all present in growth factor-stimulated cartilage samples and absent in control samples.
Our data demonstrate that it is possible to significantly enhance the maturation of cartilage tissue using specific growth factor stimulation. This may have applications in transplantation therapy or in the treatment of diseased cartilage, through phenotype modulation of osteoarthritic chondrocytes in order to stimulate growth and maturation of cartilage repair tissue.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To determine the effect of Ultraviolet-A collagen cross-linking with hypo-osmolar and iso-osmolar riboflavin solutions on stromal collagen ultrastructure in normal and keratoconus ex vivo human corneas.
Using small-angle X-ray scattering, measurements of collagen D-periodicity, fibril diameter and interfibrillar spacing were made at 1 mm intervals across six normal post-mortem corneas (two above physiological hydration (swollen) and four below (unswollen)) and two post-transplant keratoconus corneal buttons (one swollen; one unswollen), before and after hypo-osmolar cross-linking. The same parameters were measured in three other unswollen normal corneas before and after iso-osmolar cross-linking and in three pairs of swollen normal corneas, in which only the left was cross-linked (with iso-osmolar riboflavin).
Hypo-osmolar cross-linking resulted in an increase in corneal hydration in all corneas. In the keratoconus corneas and unswollen normal corneas, this was accompanied by an increase in collagen interfibrillar spacing (p<0.001); an increase in fibril diameter was also seen in two out of four unswollen normal corneas and one unswollen keratoconus cornea (p<0.001). Iso-osmolar cross-linking resulted in a decrease in tissue hydration in the swollen normal corneas only. Although there was no consistent treatment-induced change in hydration in the unswollen normal samples, iso-osmolar cross-linking of these corneas did result in a compaction of collagen fibrils and a reduced fibril diameter (p<0.001); these changes were not seen in the swollen normal corneas. Collagen D-periodicity was not affected by either treatment.
The observed structural changes following Ultraviolet-A cross-linking with hypo-osmolar or iso-osmolar riboflavin solutions are more likely a consequence of treatment-induced changes in tissue hydration rather than cross-linking.
PLoS ONE 08/2011; 6(8):e22405. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0022405 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Deficiencies in enzymes involved in proteoglycan (PG) turnover underlie a number of rare mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS), investigations of which can considerably aid understanding of the roles of PGs in corneal matrix biology. Here, the authors analyze novel pathologic changes in MPS VII (Sly syndrome) to determine the nature of PG-collagen associations in stromal ultrastructure.
Transmission electron microscopy and electron tomography were used to investigate PG-collagen architectures and interactions in a cornea obtained at keratoplasty from a 22-year-old man with MPS VII, which was caused by a compound heterozygous mutation in the GUSB gene.
Transmission electron microscopy showed atypical morphology of the epithelial basement membrane and Bowman's layer in MPS VII. Keratocytes were packed with cytoplasmic vacuoles containing abnormal glycosaminoglycan (GAG) material, and collagen fibrils were thinner than in normal cornea and varied considerably throughout anterior (14-32 nm), mid (13-42 nm), and posterior (17-39 nm) regions of the MPS VII stroma. PGs viewed in three dimensions were striking in appearance in that they were significantly larger than PGs in normal cornea and formed highly extended linkages with multiple collagen fibrils.
Cellular changes in the MPS VII cornea resemble those in other MPS. However, the wide range of collagen fibril diameters throughout the stroma and the extensive matrix presence of supranormal-sized PG structures appear to be unique features of this disorder. The findings suggest that the accumulation of stromal chondroitin-, dermatan-, and heparan-sulfate glycosaminoglycans in the absence of β-glucuronidase-mediated degradation can modulate collagen fibrillogenesis.