Corneal lymphangiogenesis in dry eye disease is regulated by substance P/neurokinin-1 receptor system through controlling expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 3

Date Published:

2021 Jul 24


PURPOSE: To evaluate the role of substance P (SP)/neurokinin-1 receptor (NK1R) system in the regulation of pathologic corneal lymphangiogenesis in dry eye disease (DED). METHODS: Immunocytochemistry, angiogenesis assay, and Western blot analysis of human dermal lymphatic endothelial cells (HDLECs) were conducted to assess the involvement of SP/NK1R system in lymphangiogenesis. DED was induced in wild-type C57BL/6 J mice using controlled-environment chamber without scopolamine. Immunohistochemistry, corneal fluorescein staining, and phenol red thread test were used to evaluate the effect of SP signaling blockade in the corneal lymphangiogenesis. The expression of lymphangiogenic factors in the corneal and conjunctival tissues of DED mouse model was quantified by real-time polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: NK1R expression and pro-lymphangiogenic property of SP/NK1R system in HDLECs were confirmed by Western blot analysis and angiogenesis assay. Blockade of SP signaling with L733,060, an antagonist of NK1R, or NK1R-targeted siRNA significantly inhibited lymphangiogenesis and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor 3 stimulated by SP in HDLECs. NK1R antagonist also suppressed pathological corneal lymphangiogenesis and ameliorated the clinical signs of dry eye in vivo. Furthermore, NK1R antagonist effectively suppressed the lymphangiogenic factors, including VEGF-C, VEGF-D, and VEGF receptor 3 in the corneal and conjunctival tissues of DED. CONCLUSIONS: SP/NK1R system promotes lymphangiogenesis in vitro and NK1R antagonism suppresses pathologic corneal lymphangiogenesis in DED in vivo.

See also: Cornea, July 2021, All, 2021
Last updated on 08/02/2021