Although retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is clinically characterized by abnormal retinal vessels at the posterior pole of the eye, it is also commonly characterized by vascular abnormalities in the anterior segment, visual dysfunction which is based in retinal dysfunction, and, most commonly of all, arrested eye growth and high refractive error, particularly (and paradoxically) myopia. The oxygen-induced retinopathy rat model of ROP presents neurovascular outcomes similar to the human disease, although it is not yet known if the "ROP rat" also models the small-eyed myopia characteristic of ROP. In this study, magnetic resonance images (MRIs) of albino (Sprague-Dawley) and pigmented (Long-Evans) ROP rat eyes, and age- and strain-matched room-air-reared (RAR) controls, were examined. The positions and curvatures of the various optical media were measured and the refractive state (℞) of each eye estimated based on a previously published model. Even in adulthood (postnatal day 50), Sprague-Dawley and Long-Evans ROP rats were significantly myopic compared to strain-matched controls. The myopia in the Long-Evans ROP rats was more severe than in the Sprague-Dawley ROP rats, which also had significantly shorter axial lengths. These data reveal the ROP rat to be a novel and potentially informative approach to investigating physiological mechanisms in myopia in general and the myopia peculiar to ROP in particular.
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) plays a crucial role in developmental and pathological angiogenesis. Expression of VEGF in quiescent adult tissue suggests a potential role in the maintenance of mature blood vessels. We demonstrate, using a Vegf-lacZ reporter mouse model, that VEGF is expressed by arterial but not by venous or capillary endothelial cells (ECs) in vivo. Using an in vitro model, we show that arterial shear stress of human umbilical vein ECs (HUVECs) decreases apoptosis and increases VEGF expression, which is mediated by the induction of Krüppel-like factor 2 (KLF2). Additionally, shear stress stimulates the expression of VEGF receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and is associated with its activation. Knockdown of VEGF in shear stressed HUVECs blocks the protective effect of shear stress, resulting in EC apoptosis equivalent to that in control ECs cultured under static conditions. Similarly, treatment of ECs subjected to arterial shear stress with the VEGF receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor SU1498, or VEGFR2 neutralizing antiserum, led to increased apoptosis, demonstrating that the mechanoprotection from increased shear is mediated by VEGFR2. Taken together, these studies suggest that arterial flow induces VEGF-VEGFR2 autocrine-juxtacrine signaling, which is a previously unidentified mechanism for vascular EC survival in adult arterial blood vessels.
The corneal endothelial monolayer helps maintain corneal transparency through its barrier and ionic "pump" functions. This transparency function can become compromised, resulting in a critical loss in endothelial cell density (ECD), corneal edema, bullous keratopathy, and loss of visual acuity. Although penetrating keratoplasty and various forms of endothelial keratoplasty are capable of restoring corneal clarity, they can also have complications requiring re-grafting or other treatments. With the increasing worldwide shortage of donor corneas to be used for keratoplasty, there is a greater need to find new therapies to restore corneal clarity that is lost due to endothelial dysfunction. As a result, researchers have been exploring alternative approaches that could result in the in vivo induction of transient corneal endothelial cell division or the in vitro expansion of healthy endothelial cells for corneal bioengineering as treatments to increase ECD and restore visual acuity. This review presents current information regarding the ability of human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC) to divide as a basis for the development of new therapies. Information will be presented on the positive and negative regulation of the cell cycle as background for the studies to be discussed. Results of studies exploring the proliferative capacity of HCEC will be presented and specific conditions that affect the ability of HCEC to divide will be discussed. Methods that have been tested to induce transient proliferation of HCEC will also be presented. This review will discuss the effect of donor age and endothelial topography on relative proliferative capacity of HCEC, as well as explore the role of nuclear oxidative DNA damage in decreasing the relative proliferative capacity of HCEC. Finally, potential new research directions will be discussed that could take advantage of and/or improve the proliferative capacity of these physiologically important cells in order to develop new treatments to restore corneal clarity.
As the general population ages, more people are affected by eye diseases, such as retinopathies. It is therefore critical to improve imaging of eye disease mouse models. Here, we demonstrate that 1) rapid, quantitative 3D and 4D (time lapse) imaging of cellular and subcellular processes in the mouse eye is feasible, with and without tissue clearing, using light-sheet fluorescent microscopy (LSFM); 2) flat-mounting retinas for confocal microscopy significantly distorts tissue morphology, confirmed by quantitative correlative LSFM-Confocal imaging of vessels; 3) LSFM readily reveals new features of even well-studied eye disease mouse models, such as the oxygen-induced retinopathy (OIR) model, including a previously unappreciated 'knotted' morphology to pathological vascular tufts, abnormal cell motility and altered filopodia dynamics when live-imaged. We conclude that quantitative 3D/4D LSFM imaging and analysis has the potential to advance our understanding of the eye, in particular pathological, neuro-vascular, degenerative processes.