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Beier KT, Mundell NA, Pan AY, Cepko CL. Anterograde or Retrograde Transsynaptic Circuit Tracing in Vertebrates with Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Vectors. Curr Protoc Neurosci 2016;74:1.26.1-1.26.27.Abstract

Viruses have been used as transsynaptic tracers, allowing one to map the inputs and outputs of neuronal populations, due to their ability to replicate in neurons and transmit in vivo only across synaptically connected cells. To date, their use has been largely restricted to mammals. In order to explore the use of such viruses in an expanded host range, we tested the transsynaptic tracing ability of recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (rVSV) vectors in a variety of organisms. Successful infection and gene expression were achieved in a wide range of organisms, including vertebrate and invertebrate model organisms. Moreover, rVSV enabled transsynaptic tracing of neural circuitry in predictable directions dictated by the viral envelope glycoprotein (G), derived from either VSV or rabies virus (RABV). Anterograde and retrograde labeling, from initial infection and/or viral replication and transmission, was observed in Old and New World monkeys, seahorses, jellyfish, zebrafish, chickens, and mice. These vectors are widely applicable for gene delivery, afferent tract tracing, and/or directional connectivity mapping. Here, we detail the use of these vectors and provide protocols for propagating virus, changing the surface glycoprotein, and infecting multiple organisms using several injection strategies. © 2016 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Beier KT, Saunders AB, Oldenburg IA, Sabatini BL, Cepko CL. Vesicular stomatitis virus with the rabies virus glycoprotein directs retrograde transsynaptic transport among neurons in vivo. Front Neural Circuits 2013;7:11.Abstract
Defining the connections among neurons is critical to our understanding of the structure and function of the nervous system. Recombinant viruses engineered to transmit across synapses provide a powerful approach for the dissection of neuronal circuitry in vivo. We recently demonstrated that recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) can be endowed with anterograde or retrograde transsynaptic tracing ability by providing the virus with different glycoproteins. Here we extend the characterization of the transmission and gene expression of recombinant VSV (rVSV) with the rabies virus glycoprotein (RABV-G), and provide examples of its activity relative to the anterograde transsynaptic tracer form of rVSV. rVSV with RABV-G was found to drive strong expression of transgenes and to spread rapidly from neuron to neuron in only a retrograde manner. Depending upon how the RABV-G was delivered, VSV served as a polysynaptic or monosynaptic tracer, or was able to define projections through axonal uptake and retrograde transport. In animals co-infected with rVSV in its anterograde form, rVSV with RABV-G could be used to begin to characterize the similarities and differences in connections to different areas. rVSV with RABV-G provides a flexible, rapid, and versatile tracing tool that complements the previously described VSV-based anterograde transsynaptic tracer.
Belmonte C, Nichols JJ, Cox SM, Brock JA, Begley CG, Bereiter DA, Dartt DA, Galor A, Hamrah P, Ivanusic JJ, Jacobs DS, McNamara NA, Rosenblatt MI, Stapleton F, Wolffsohn JS. TFOS DEWS II pain and sensation report. Ocul Surf 2017;15(3):404-437.Abstract
Pain associated with mechanical, chemical, and thermal heat stimulation of the ocular surface is mediated by trigeminal ganglion neurons, while cold thermoreceptors detect wetness and reflexly maintain basal tear production and blinking rate. These neurons project into two regions of the trigeminal brain stem nuclear complex: ViVc, activated by changes in the moisture of the ocular surface and VcC1, mediating sensory-discriminative aspects of ocular pain and reflex blinking. ViVc ocular neurons project to brain regions that control lacrimation and spontaneous blinking and to the sensory thalamus. Secretion of the main lacrimal gland is regulated dominantly by autonomic parasympathetic nerves, reflexly activated by eye surface sensory nerves. These also evoke goblet cell secretion through unidentified efferent fibers. Neural pathways involved in the regulation of meibomian gland secretion or mucin release have not been identified. In dry eye disease, reduced tear secretion leads to inflammation and peripheral nerve damage. Inflammation causes sensitization of polymodal and mechano-nociceptor nerve endings and an abnormal increase in cold thermoreceptor activity, altogether evoking dryness sensations and pain. Long-term inflammation and nerve injury alter gene expression of ion channels and receptors at terminals and cell bodies of trigeminal ganglion and brainstem neurons, changing their excitability, connectivity and impulse firing. Perpetuation of molecular, structural and functional disturbances in ocular sensory pathways ultimately leads to dysestesias and neuropathic pain referred to the eye surface. Pain can be assessed with a variety of questionaires while the status of corneal nerves is evaluated with esthesiometry and with in vivo confocal microscopy.
Benaglio P, San Jose PF, Avila-Fernandez A, Ascari G, Harper S, Manes G, Ayuso C, Hamel C, Berson EL, Rivolta C. Mutational screening of splicing factor genes in cases with autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa. Mol Vis 2014;20:843-51.Abstract

PURPOSE: Mutations in genes encoding proteins from the tri-snRNP complex of the spliceosome account for more than 12% of cases of autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (adRP). Although the exact mechanism by which splicing factor defects trigger photoreceptor death is not completely clear, their role in retinitis pigmentosa has been demonstrated by several genetic and functional studies. To test for possible novel associations between splicing factors and adRP, we screened four tri-snRNP splicing factor genes (EFTUD2, PRPF4, NHP2L1, and AAR2) as candidate disease genes. METHODS: We screened up to 303 patients with adRP from Europe and North America who did not carry known RP mutations. Exon-PCR and Sanger methods were used to sequence the NHP2L1 and AAR2 genes, while the sequences of EFTUD2 and PRPF4 were obtained by using long-range PCRs spanning coding and non-coding regions followed by next-generation sequencing. RESULTS: We detected novel missense changes in individual patients in the sequence of the genes PRPF4 and EFTUD2, but the role of these changes in relationship to disease could not be verified. In one other patient we identified a novel nucleotide substitution in the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of NHP2L1, which did not segregate with the disease in the family. CONCLUSIONS: The absence of clearly pathogenic mutations in the candidate genes screened in our cohort suggests that EFTUD2, PRPF4, NHP2L1, and AAR2 are either not involved in adRP or are associated with the disease in rare instances, at least as observed in this study in patients of European and North American origin.

Benischke A-S, Vasanth S, Miyai T, Katikireddy KR, White T, Chen Y, Halilovic A, Price M, Price F, Liton PB, Jurkunas UV. Activation of mitophagy leads to decline in Mfn2 and loss of mitochondrial mass in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. Sci Rep 2017;7(1):6656.Abstract
Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) are terminally differentiated cells that have limited regenerative potential. The large numbers of mitochondria in HCEnCs are critical for pump and barrier function required for corneal hydration and transparency. Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy (FECD) is a highly prevalent late-onset oxidative stress disorder characterized by progressive loss of HCEnCs. We previously reported increased mitochondrial fragmentation and reduced ATP and mtDNA copy number in FECD. Herein, carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenyl hydrazone (CCCP)-induced mitochondrial depolarization decreased mitochondrial mass and Mfn2 levels, which were rescued with mitophagy blocker, bafilomycin, in FECD. Moreover, electron transport chain complex (I, V) decrease in FECD indicated deficient mitochondrial bioenergetics. Transmission electron microscopy of FECD tissues displayed an increased number of autophagic vacuoles containing degenerated and swollen mitochondria with cristolysis. An elevation of LC3-II and LAMP1 and downregulation of Mfn2 in mitochondrial fractions suggested that loss of fusion capacity targets fragmented mitochondria to the pre-autophagic pool and upregulates mitophagy. CCCP-induced mitochondrial fragmentation leads to Mfn2 and LC3 co-localization without activation of proteosome, suggesting a novel Mfn2 degradation pathway via mitophagy. These data indicate constitutive activation of mitophagy results in reduction of mitochondrial mass and abrogates cellular bioenergetics during degeneration of post-mitotic cells of ocular tissue.
Bennett CR, Loomis JM, Klatzky RL, Giudice NA. Spatial updating of multiple targets: Comparison of younger and older adults. Mem Cognit 2017;Abstract
When walking without vision, people mentally keep track of the directions and distances of previously viewed objects, a process called spatial updating. The current experiment indicates that while people across a large age range are able to update multiple targets in memory without perceptual support, aging negatively affects accuracy, precision, and decision time. Participants (20 to 80 years of age) viewed one, three, or six targets (colored lights) on the floor of a dimly lit room. Then, without vision, they walked to a target designated by color, either directly or indirectly (via a forward turning point). The younger adults' final stopping points were both accurate (near target) and precise (narrowly dispersed), but updating performance did degrade slightly with the number of targets. Older adults' performance was consistently worse than the younger group, but the lack of interaction between age and memory load indicates that the effect of age on performance was not further exacerbated by a greater number of targets. The number of targets also significantly increased the latency required to turn toward the designated target for both age groups. Taken together, results extend previous work showing impressive updating performance by younger adults, with novel findings showing that older adults manifest small but consistent degradation of updating performance of multitarget arrays.
Bennett J, Wellman J, Marshall KA, McCague S, Ashtari M, DiStefano-Pappas J, Elci OU, Chung DC, Sun J, Wright FJ, Cross DR, Aravand P, Cyckowski LL, Bennicelli JL, Mingozzi F, Auricchio A, Pierce EA, Ruggiero J, Leroy BP, Simonelli F, High KA, Maguire AM. Safety and durability of effect of contralateral-eye administration of AAV2 gene therapy in patients with childhood-onset blindness caused by RPE65 mutations: a follow-on phase 1 trial. Lancet 2016;Abstract

BACKGROUND: Safety and efficacy have been shown in a phase 1 dose-escalation study involving a unilateral subretinal injection of a recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector containing the RPE65 gene (AAV2-hRPE65v2) in individuals with inherited retinal dystrophy caused by RPE65 mutations. This finding, along with the bilateral nature of the disease and intended use in treatment, prompted us to determine the safety of administration of AAV2-hRPE65v2 to the contralateral eye in patients enrolled in the phase 1 study. METHODS: In this follow-on phase 1 trial, one dose of AAV2-hRPE65v2 (1·5 × 10(11) vector genomes) in a total volume of 300 μL was subretinally injected into the contralateral, previously uninjected, eyes of 11 children and adults (aged 11-46 years at second administration) with inherited retinal dystrophy caused by RPE65 mutations, 1·71-4·58 years after the initial subretinal injection. We assessed safety, immune response, retinal and visual function, functional vision, and activation of the visual cortex from baseline until 3 year follow-up, with observations ongoing. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01208389. FINDINGS: No adverse events related to the AAV were reported, and those related to the procedure were mostly mild (dellen formation in three patients and cataracts in two). One patient developed bacterial endophthalmitis and was excluded from analyses. We noted improvements in efficacy outcomes in most patients without significant immunogenicity. Compared with baseline, pooled analysis of ten participants showed improvements in mean mobility and full-field light sensitivity in the injected eye by day 30 that persisted to year 3 (mobility p=0·0003, white light full-field sensitivity p<0·0001), but no significant change was seen in the previously injected eyes over the same time period (mobility p=0·7398, white light full-field sensitivity p=0·6709). Changes in visual acuity from baseline to year 3 were not significant in pooled analysis in the second eyes or the previously injected eyes (p>0·49 for all time-points compared with baseline). INTERPRETATION: To our knowledge, AAV2-hRPE65v2 is the first successful gene therapy administered to the contralateral eye. The results highlight the use of several outcome measures and help to delineate the variables that contribute to maximal benefit from gene augmentation therapy in this disease. FUNDING: Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Spark Therapeutics, US National Institutes of Health, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, Research to Prevent Blindness, Center for Advanced Retinal and Ocular Therapeutics, Mackall Foundation Trust, F M Kirby Foundation, and The Research Foundation-Flanders.

Benowitz LI, He Z, Goldberg JL. Reaching the brain: Advances in optic nerve regeneration. Exp Neurol 2017;287(Pt 3):365-373.Abstract

The optic nerve has been widely used to investigate factors that regulate axon regeneration in the mammalian CNS. Although retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), the projection neurons of the eye, show little capacity to regenerate their axons following optic nerve damage, studies spanning the 20(th) century showed that some RGCs can regenerate axons through a segment of peripheral nerve grafted to the optic nerve. More recently, some degree of regeneration has been achieved through the optic nerve itself by factors associated with intraocular inflammation (oncomodulin) or by altering levels of particular transcription factors (Klf-4, -9, c-myc), cell-intrinsic suppressors of axon growth (PTEN, SOCS3), receptors to cell-extrinsic inhibitors of axon growth (Nogo receptor, LAR, PTP-σ) or the intracellular signaling pathway activated by these receptors (RhoA). Other regulators of regeneration and cell survival continue to be identified in this system at a rapid pace. Combinatorial treatments that include two or more of these factors enable some retinal ganglion cells to regenerate axons from the eye through the entire length of the optic nerve and across the optic chiasm. In some cases, regenerating axons have been shown to innervate the appropriate central target areas and elicit postsynaptic responses. Many discoveries made in this system have been found to enhance axon regeneration after spinal cord injury. Thus, progress in optic nerve regeneration holds promise not only for visual restoration but also for improving outcome after injury to other parts of the mature CNS.

Bernabeu MO, Lu Y, Abu-Qamar O, Aiello LP, Sun JK. Estimation of Diabetic Retinal Microaneurysm Perfusion Parameters Based on Computational Fluid Dynamics Modeling of Adaptive Optics Scanning Laser Ophthalmoscopy. Front Physiol 2018;9:989.Abstract
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) is a leading cause of vision loss worldwide. Microaneurysms (MAs), which are abnormal outpouchings of the retinal vessels, are early and hallmark lesions of DR. The presence and severity of MAs are utilized to determine overall DR severity. In addition, MAs can directly contribute to retinal neural pathology by leaking fluid into the surrounding retina, causing abnormal central retinal thickening and thereby frequently leading to vision loss. Vascular perfusion parameters such as shear rate (SR) or wall shear stress (WSS) have been linked to blood clotting and endothelial cell dysfunction, respectively in non-retinal vasculature. However, despite the importance of MAs as a key aspect of diabetic retinal pathology, much remains unknown as to how structural characteristics of individual MAs are associated with these perfusion attributes. MA structural information obtained on high resolution adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (AOSLO) was utilized to estimate perfusion parameters through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) analysis of the AOSLO images. The HemeLB flow solver was used to simulate steady-state and time-dependent fluid flow using both commodity hospital-based and high performance computing resources, depending on the degree of detail required in the simulations. Our results indicate that WSS is lowest in MA regions furthest away from the feeding vessels. Furthermore, areas of low SR are associated with clot location in saccular MAs. These findings suggest that morphology and CFD estimation of perfusion parameters may be useful tools for determining the likelihood of clot presence in individual diabetic MAs.
Bernstein CA, Nir R-R, Noseda R, Fulton AB, Huntington S, Lee AJ, Bertisch SM, Hovaguimian A, Buettner C, Borsook D, Burstein R. The migraine eye: distinct rod-driven retinal pathways' response to dim light challenges the visual cortex hyperexcitability theory. Pain 2018;Abstract
Migraine-type photophobia, most commonly described as exacerbation of headache by light, affects nearly 90% of the patients. It is the most bothersome symptoms accompanying an attack. Using subjective psychophysical assessments, we showed that migraine patients are more sensitive to all colors of light during ictal than during interictal phase and that control subjects do not experience pain when exposed to different colors of light. Based on these findings, we suggested that color preference is unique to migraineurs (as it was not found in control subjects) rather than migraine phase (as it was found in both phases). To identify the origin of this photophobia in migraineurs, we compared the electrical waveforms that were generated in the retina and visual cortex of 46 interictal migraineurs to those generated in 42 healthy controls using color-based electroretinography and visual evoked potential paradigms. Unexpectedly, it was the amplitude of the retinal rod-driven b-wave, which was consistently larger (by 14-19% in the light-adapted and 18-34% in the dark-adapted flash ERG) in the migraineurs than in the controls, rather than the retinal cone-driven a-wave or the visual evoked potentials that differ most strikingly between the two groups. Mechanistically, these findings suggest that the inherent hypersensitivity to light among migraine patients may originate in the retinal rods rather than retinal cones or the visual cortex. Clinically, the findings may explain why migraineurs complain that the light is too bright even when it is dim to the extent that non-migraineurs feel as if they live in a cave.
Berry RH, Qu J, John SWM, Howell GR, Jakobs TC. Synapse Loss and Dendrite Remodeling in a Mouse Model of Glaucoma. PLoS One 2015;10(12):e0144341.Abstract

It has been hypothesized that synaptic pruning precedes retinal ganglion cell degeneration in glaucoma, causing early dysfunction to retinal ganglion cells. To begin to assess this, we studied the excitatory synaptic inputs to individual ganglion cells in normal mouse retinas and in retinas with ganglion cell degeneration from glaucoma (DBA/2J), or following an optic nerve crush. Excitatory synapses were labeled by AAV2-mediated transfection of ganglion cells with PSD-95-GFP. After both insults the linear density of synaptic inputs to ganglion cells decreased. In parallel, the dendritic arbors lost complexity. We did not observe any cells that had lost dendritic synaptic input while preserving a normal or near-normal morphology. Within the temporal limits of these observations, dendritic remodeling and synapse pruning thus appear to occur near-simultaneously.

Besner S, Scarcelli G, Pineda R, Yun S-H. In Vivo Brillouin Analysis of the Aging Crystalline Lens. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2016;57(13):5093-5100.Abstract

Purpose: To analyze the age dependence of the longitudinal modulus of the crystalline lens in vivo using Brillouin scattering data in healthy subjects. Methods: Brillouin scans were performed along the crystalline lens in 56 eyes from 30 healthy subjects aged from 19 to 63 years. Longitudinal elastic modulus was acquired along the sagittal axis of the lens with a transverse and axial resolution of 4 and 60 μm, respectively. The relative lens stiffness was computed, and correlations with age were analyzed. Results: Brillouin axial profiles revealed nonuniform longitudinal modulus within the lens, increasing from a softer periphery toward a stiffer central plateau at all ages. The longitudinal modulus at the central plateau showed no age dependence in a range of 19 to 45 years and a slight decrease with age from 45 to 63 years. A significant intersubject variability was observed in an age-matched analysis. Importantly, the extent of the central stiff plateau region increased steadily over age from 19 to 63 years. The slope of change in Brillouin modulus in the peripheral regions were nearly age-invariant. Conclusions: The adult human lens showed no measurable age-related increase in the peak longitudinal modulus. The expansion of the stiff central region of the lens is likely to be the major contributing factor to age-related lens stiffening. Brillouin microscopy may be useful in characterizing the crystalline lens for the optimization of surgical or pharmacological treatments aimed at restoring accommodative power.

Bever GJ, Jakobiec FA, Mendoza PR, Hatton MP. Congenital megacaruncle: a unique and innocent ocular adnexal anomaly. JAMA Ophthalmol 2013;131(12):1641-3.
Bhattacharya S, García-Posadas L, Hodges RR, Makarenkova HP, Masli S, Dartt DA. Alteration in nerves and neurotransmitter stimulation of lacrimal gland secretion in the TSP-1 mouse model of aqueous deficiency dry eye. Mucosal Immunol 2018;11(4):1138-1148.Abstract
The purpose of this study is to determine neural, vascular, protein secretion, and cellular signaling changes with disease progression in lacrimal glands of the thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) mouse model of dry eye compared to C57BL/6 wild-type (WT) mice. Neural innervation was reduced in TSP-1 lacrimal glands compared to WT controls, whereas the number of blood vessels was increased. Intracellular Ca stores and the amount of lysosomes, mitochondria, and secretory granules, but not the endoplasmic reticulum, were reduced in TSP-1 compared to WT acini at 12 weeks of age. Ex vivo high KCl-evoked secretion was decreased in TSP-1 compared to WT lacrimal gland tissue pieces. The α-adrenergic agonist-stimulated response was increased in TSP-1 at 4 and 24 weeks but decreased at 12 weeks, and the ATP and MeSATP-stimulated peak [Ca] responses were decreased at 24 weeks. These changes were observed prior to the appearance of mononuclear infiltrates. We conclude that in the lacrimal gland the absence of TSP-1: injures peripheral nerves; blocks efferent nerve activation; decreases protein secretion; and alters intracellular Ca stores. Through these effects the absence of TSP-1 leads to disruption of ocular surface homeostasis and development of dry eye.
Bingham CM, Sivak-Callcott JA, Gurka MJ, Nguyen J, Hogg JP, Feldon SE, Fay A, Seah L-L, Strianese D, Durairaj VD, Uddin J, Devoto MH, Harris M, Saunders J, Osaki TH, Looi A, Teo L, Davies BW, Elefante A, Shen S, Realini T, Fischer W, Kazim M. Axial Globe Position Measurement: A Prospective Multicenter Study by the International Thyroid Eye Disease Society. Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg 2016;32(2):106-12.Abstract

PURPOSE: Identify a reproducible measure of axial globe position (AGP) for multicenter studies on patients with thyroid eye disease (TED). METHODS: This is a prospective, international, multicenter, observational study in which 3 types of AGP evaluation were examined: radiologic, clinical, and photographic. In this study, CT was the modality to which all other methods were compared. CT AGP was measured from an orthogonal line between the anterior lateral orbital rims to the cornea. All CT measurements were made at a single institution by 3 individual clinicians. Clinical evaluation was performed with exophthalmometry. Three clinicians from each clinical site assessed AGP with 3 different exophthalmometers and horizontal palpebral width using a ruler. Each physician made 3 separate measurements with each type of exophthalmometer not in succession. All photographic measurements were made at a single institution. AGP was measured from lateral photographs in which a standard marker was placed at the anterior lateral orbital rim. Horizontal and vertical palpebral fissure were measured from frontal photographs. Three trained readers measured 3 separate times not in succession. Exophthalmometry and photography method validity was assessed by agreement with CT (mean differences calculation, intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs], Bland-Altman figures). Correlation between palpebral fissure and CT AGP was assessed with Pearson correlation. Intraclinician and interclinician reliability was evaluated using ICCs. RESULTS: Sixty-eight patients from 7 centers participated. CT mean AGP was 21.37 mm (15.96-28.90 mm) right and 21.22 mm (15.87-28.70 mm) left (ICC 0.996 and 0.995). Exophthalmometry AGP fell between 18 mm and 25 mm. Intraclinician agreement across exophthalmometers was ideal (ICC 0.948-0.983). Agreement between clinicians was greater than 0.85 for all upright exophthalmometry measurements. Photographic mean AGP was 20.47 mm (10.92-30.88 mm) right and 20.30 mm (8.61-28.72 mm) left. Intrareader and interreader agreement was ideal (ICC 0.991-0.989). All exophthalmometers' mean differences from CT ranged between -0.06 mm (±1.36 mm) and 0.54 mm (±1.61 mm); 95% confidence interval fell within 1 mm. Magnitude of AGP did not affect exophthalmometry validity. Oculus best estimated CT AGP but differences from other exophthalmometers were not clinically meaningful in upright measurements. Photographic AGP (right ICC = 0.575, left ICC = 0.355) and palpebral fissure do not agree with CT. CONCLUSIONS: Upright clinical exophthalmometry accurately estimates CT AGP in TED. AGP measurement was reliably reproduced by the same clinician and between clinicians at multiple institutions using the protocol in this study. These findings allow reliable measurement of AGP that will be of considerable value in future outcome studies.

Birnbaum FA, Hamrah P, Jacobs DS, Song BJ. Acquired Corneal Neuropathy and Photoallodynia Associated With Malposition of an Ex-PRESS Shunt. J Glaucoma 2017;26(1):e19-e21.Abstract

PURPOSE: Corneal neuropathy is a recently described disease process that is not well understood and is likely underdiagnosed as a result. This is the first reported case of an acquired corneal neuropathy associated with malposition of an Ex-PRESS shunt. METHODS: A single case report. RESULTS: We report the case of a 50-year-old man with a history of multiple procedures for glaucoma who subsequently developed photoallodynia and corneal neuropathy in association with malposition of an Ex-PRESS shunt in the peripheral cornea. Laser confocal microscopy (HRT3/RCM) of the cornea showed the presence of neuromas, decreased nerve density, and a significant increase of dendritiform immune cells consistent with our diagnosis. Initial treatment with steroid pulse therapy did not result in decreased inflammation or symptomatic improvement leading to surgical explantation of the shunt. One month after surgery, there was noticeable improvement in the patient's pain and photoallodynia (approximately 40%) as well as the abnormalities seen on confocal microscopy. CONCLUSIONS: We hypothesize that poor Ex-PRESS shunt positioning can act as a nidus for corneal inflammation, resulting in corneal neuropathy and lowering of the nociception threshold.

Birsner AE, Benny O, D'Amato RJ. The corneal micropocket assay: a model of angiogenesis in the mouse eye. J Vis Exp 2014;(90)Abstract
The mouse corneal micropocket assay is a robust and quantitative in vivo assay for evaluating angiogenesis. By using standardized slow-release pellets containing specific growth factors that trigger blood vessel growth throughout the naturally avascular cornea, angiogenesis can be measured and quantified. In this assay the angiogenic response is generated over the course of several days, depending on the type and dose of growth factor used. The induction of neovascularization is commonly triggered by either basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) or vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). By combining these growth factors with sucralfate and hydron (poly-HEMA (poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate))) and casting the mixture into pellets, they can be surgically implanted in the mouse eye. These uniform pellets slowly-release the growth factors over five or six days (bFGF or VEGF respectively) enabling sufficient angiogenic response required for vessel area quantification using a slit lamp. This assay can be used for different applications, including the evaluation of angiogenic modulator drugs or treatments as well as comparison between different genetic backgrounds affecting angiogenesis. A skilled investigator after practicing this assay can implant a pellet in less than 5 min per eye.
Bispo PJM, Haas W, Gilmore MS. Biofilms in infections of the eye. Pathogens 2015;4(1):111-36.Abstract

The ability to form biofilms in a variety of environments is a common trait of bacteria, and may represent one of the earliest defenses against predation. Biofilms are multicellular communities usually held together by a polymeric matrix, ranging from capsular material to cell lysate. In a structure that imposes diffusion limits, environmental microgradients arise to which individual bacteria adapt their physiologies, resulting in the gamut of physiological diversity. Additionally, the proximity of cells within the biofilm creates the opportunity for coordinated behaviors through cell-cell communication using diffusible signals, the most well documented being quorum sensing. Biofilms form on abiotic or biotic surfaces, and because of that are associated with a large proportion of human infections. Biofilm formation imposes a limitation on the uses and design of ocular devices, such as intraocular lenses, posterior contact lenses, scleral buckles, conjunctival plugs, lacrimal intubation devices and orbital implants. In the absence of abiotic materials, biofilms have been observed on the capsule, and in the corneal stroma. As the evidence for the involvement of microbial biofilms in many ocular infections has become compelling, developing new strategies to prevent their formation or to eradicate them at the site of infection, has become a priority.

Bitar MS, Liu C, Ziaei A, Chen Y, Schmedt T, Jurkunas UV. Decline in DJ-1 and decreased nuclear translocation of Nrf2 in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2012;53(9):5806-13.Abstract
PURPOSE: This study sought to determine factors involved in nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulation and their response to oxidative stress in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) and normal corneal endothelial cells (CECs). METHODS: FECD corneal buttons were obtained from transplantations and normal human corneas from tissue banks. Oxidative stress was induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBHP). Protein and mRNA levels of Nrf2, DJ-1, p53, and Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (Keap1) were investigated using Western blotting and real-time PCR. Immunoprecipitation was used to detect levels of oxidized DJ-1 protein and Cullin 3- (Cul3)-regulated degradation of DJ-1 in immortalized FECD (FECDi) and normal CEC (HCECi) cell lines. Nrf2 subcellular localization was assessed by immunocytochemistry. RESULTS: Nrf2 protein stabilizer, DJ-1, decreased significantly in FECD CECs compared with normal, whereas Nrf2 protein repressor, Keap1, was unchanged at baseline but increased under oxidative stress. Under oxidative stress, normal CECs upregulated DJ-1 protein synthesis, whereas FECD CECs did not. DJ-1 decline correlated with increased DJ-1 oxidative modification and carbonylation in FECDi as compared with HCECi. Increased labeling of immunoprecipitated DJ-1 protein with anti-Cul3 antibody indicated enhanced DJ-1 degradation in FECDi as compared with HCECi. Following tBHP treatment, Nrf2 translocated from cytoplasm to nuclei in normal CECs, whereas Nrf2 nuclear localization was not observed in FECD. CONCLUSIONS: Decreased levels of DJ-1 in FECD at baseline and under oxidative stress correlate with impaired Nrf2 nuclear translocation and heightened cell susceptibility to apoptosis. Targeting the DJ-1/Nrf2 axis could yield a mechanism to slow CEC degeneration in FECD.
Blanco-Mezquita JT, Hutcheon AEK, Zieske JD. Role of thrombospondin-1 in repair of penetrating corneal wounds. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2013;54(9):6262-8.Abstract
PURPOSE: Thrombospondin-1 (THBS1) has been suggested as a corneal wound-healing modulator. Therefore, we compromised the integrity of the cornea to elucidate the role of THBS1. METHODS: Full-thickness penetrating corneal incisions (1.5 mm) were created in wild type (WT, 129S2/SvPas) and THBS1-deficient mice (Thbs1⁻/⁻), 129S2/SvPas-Thbs1(tm1Hyn)/Thbs1(tm1Hyn)), and allowed to heal up to 1 month, while being monitored by slit-lamp and intravital corneal examinations. Corneas also were examined by transmission electron microscopy and indirect immunofluorescence. To determine how THBS1 was involved in the healing process, we examined THBS1 and α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), a marker of myofibroblasts and myoepithelial cells. RESULTS: In WT mice by 1 month, corneas appeared transparent with a thin scar, and endothelium and Descemet's membrane (DM) were restored. In contrast, Thbs1⁻/⁻ corneas exhibited chronic edema and persistent opacity after wounding. The DM and endothelium were not restored, and wound contraction was impaired. The THBS1 was localized in epithelial cells at early stages of the healing process, and in the stroma and endothelial cells during later stages. The SMA-positive epithelial cells and myofibroblasts were observed within the healing area at day 4, peaked at day 14, and disappeared at day 30. The SMA-positive cells were reduced greatly in Thbs1⁻/⁻ mice. CONCLUSIONS: In the current study, we demonstrated that corneal restoration is strikingly compromised by a penetrating incision in Thbs1⁻/⁻ mice. The wound results in persistent edema and wound gaping. This appears to be the result of the lack of endothelial migration and DM restoration. In addition, myofibroblast formation is compromised, resulting in the lack of wound contraction.

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