CD4CD25Foxp3 Regulatory T cells (Tregs) play a critical role in immune tolerance. The plasticity and functional adaptability of Tregs in an inflammatory microenvironment has been demonstrated in autoimmunity. Here, using a double transgenic mouse model that permits Foxp3 lineage tracing, we investigated the phenotypic plasticity of Foxp3 Tregs in a well-characterized murine model of corneal transplantation. In order to subvert the normal immune privilege of the cornea and foster an inflammatory milieu, host mice were exposed to desiccating stress prior to transplantation. Treg frequencies and function were decreased following desiccating stress, and this corresponded to decreased graft survival. A fraction of Tregs converted to IL-17 or IFNγ 'exFoxp3' T cells that were phenotypically indistinguishable from effector Th17 or Th1 cells, respectively. We investigated how Foxp3 expression is modulated in different Treg subsets, demonstrating that neuropilin-1 peripherally-derived Tregs are particularly susceptible to conversion to IL-17/IFNγ exFoxp3 cells in response to cues from their microenvironment. Finally, we show that IL-6 and IL-23 are implicated in the conversion of Tregs to exFoxp3 cells. This report demonstrates that the pathological conversion of Tregs contributes to the loss of corneal immune privilege.
Itch and pain are refractory symptoms of many ocular conditions. Ocular itch is generated mainly in the conjunctiva and is absent from the cornea. In contrast, most ocular pain arises from the cornea. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Using genetic axonal tracing approaches, we discover distinct sensory innervation patterns between the conjunctiva and cornea. Further genetic and functional analyses in rodent models show that a subset of conjunctival-selective sensory fibers marked by MrgprA3 expression, rather than corneal sensory fibers, mediates ocular itch. Importantly, the actions of both histamine and nonhistamine pruritogens converge onto this unique subset of conjunctiva sensory fibers and enable them to play a key role in mediating itch associated with allergic conjunctivitis. This is distinct from skin itch, in which discrete populations of sensory neurons cooperate to carry itch. Finally, we provide proof of concept that selective silencing of conjunctiva itch-sensing fibers by pruritogen-mediated entry of sodium channel blocker QX-314 is a feasible therapeutic strategy to treat ocular itch in mice. Itch-sensing fibers also innervate the human conjunctiva and allow pharmacological silencing using QX-314. Our results cast new light on the neural mechanisms of ocular itch and open a new avenue for developing therapeutic strategies.
Artificial cornea is an effective treatment of corneal blindness. Yet, intraocular pressure (IOP) measurements for glaucoma monitoring remain an urgent unmet need. Here, we present the integration of a fiber-optic Fabry-Perot pressure sensor with an FDA-approved keratoprosthesis for real-time IOP measurements using a novel strategy based on optical-path self-alignment with micromagnets. Additionally, an alternative noncontact sensor-interrogation approach is demonstrated using a bench-top optical coherence tomography system. We show stable pressure readings with low baseline drift (<2.8 mm Hg) for >4.5 years in vitro and efficacy in IOP interrogation in vivo using fiber-optic self-alignment, with good initial agreement with the actual IOP. Subsequently, IOP drift in vivo was due to retroprosthetic membrane (RPM) formation on the sensor secondary to surgical inflammation (more severe in the current pro-fibrotic rabbit model). This study paves the way for clinical adaptation of optical pressure sensors with ocular implants, highlighting the importance of controlling RPM in clinical adaptation.
Purpose: To benchmark the optical performance of Boston Keratoprosthesis (B-KPro). Methods: Back focal lengths (BFL) of B-KPros for various eye axial lengths were measured using an optical bench, International Organization for Standardization-certified for intraocular lens characterization, and compared against manufacturer's specification. The modulation transfer function (MTF) and the resolution efficiencies were measured. The theoretical geometry-dependent higher-order aberrations (HOA) were calculated. The devices were characterized with optical profilometry for estimating the surface scattering. Aberration correction and subsequent image quality improvement were simulated in CODE-V. Natural scene-imaging was performed in a mock ocular environment. Retrospective analysis of 15 B-KPro recipient eyes were presented to evaluate the possibility of achieving 20/20 best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA). Results: BFL measurements were in excellent agreement with the manufacturer-reported values (r = 0.999). The MTF specification exceeded what is required for achieving 20/20 visual acuity. Astigmatism and field curvature, correctable in simulations, were the primary aberrations limiting imaging performance. Profilometry of the anterior surface revealed nanoscale roughness (root-mean-square amplitude, 30-50 nm), contributing negligibly to optical scattering. Images of natural scenes obtained with a simulated B-KPro eye demonstrated good central vision, with 10/10 visual acuity (equivalent to 20/20). Full restoration of 20/20 BCVA was obtainable for over 9 years in some patients. Conclusions: Theoretical and experimental considerations demonstrate that B-KPro has the optical capacity to restore 20/20 BCVA in patients. Further image quality improvement can be anticipated through correction of HOAs. Translational Relevance: We establish an objective benchmark to characterize the optics of the B-KPro and other keratoprosthesis and propose design changes to allow improved vision in B-KPro patients.
Corneal endothelium is a cellular monolayer positioned on the Descemet's membrane at the anterior cornea, and it plays a critical role in maintaining corneal clarity. Our present study examines the feasibility of utilizing our 3-dimensional (3D) corneal stromal construct, which consists of human corneal fibroblasts (HCF) and their self-assembled matrix, to observe the development and maturation of human corneal endothelial cells (HCEndoCs) in a co-culture model. Three-dimensional HCF constructs were created by growing the HCFs on Transwell membranes in Eagles' minimum essential medium (EMEM) + 10% FBS + 0.5 mM Vitamin C (VitC) for about 4 weeks. HCEndoCs, either primary (pHCEndoC) or cell line (HCEndoCL), were either seeded in chamber slides, directly on the Transwell membranes, or on the 3D HCF constructs and cultivated for 5 days or 2 weeks. The HCEndoCs that were seeded directly on the Transwell membranes were exposed indirectly to HCF by culturing the HCF on the plate beneath the membrane. Cultures were examined for morphology and ultrastructure using light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). In addition, indirect-immunofluorescence microscopy (IF) was used to examine tight junction formation (ZO-1), maturation (ALDH1A1), basement membrane formation (Laminin), cell proliferation (Ki67), cell death (caspase-3), and fibrotic response (CTGF). As expected, both pHCEndoCs and HCEndoCLs formed monolayers on the constructs; however, the morphology of the HCEndoCLs appeared to be similar to that seen in vivo, uniform and closely packed, whereas the pHCEndoCs remained elongated. The IF data showed that laminin localization was present in the HCEndoCs' cytoplasm as cell-cell contact increased, and when they were grown in the 3D co-culture, the beginnings of what appears to be a continuous DM-like structure was observed. In addition, in co-cultures, ALDH1A1-positive HCEndoCs were present, ZO-1 expression localized within the tight junctions, minimal numbers of HCEndoCs were Ki67-or Caspase-3-positive, and CTGF was positive in both the HCEndoCs cytoplasm and the matrix of the co-culture. Also, laminin localization was stimulated in HCEndoCs upon indirect stimuli secreted by HCF. The present data suggests our 3D co-culture model is useful for studying corneal endothelium maturation in vitro since the co-culture promotes new DM-like formation, HCEndoCs develop in vivo-like characteristics, and the fibrotic response is activated. Our current findings are applicable to understanding the implications of corneal endothelial injection therapy, such as if the abnormal DM has to be removed from the patient, the newly injected endothelial cells will seed onto the wound area and deposit a new DM-like membrane. However, caution should be observed and as much of the normal DM should be left intact since removal of the DM can cause a posterior stromal fibrotic response.
Iglesias AI, Mishra A, Vitart V, Bykhovskaya Y, Höhn R, Springelkamp H, Cuellar-Partida G, Gharahkhani P, Bailey JCN, Willoughby CE, Li X, Yazar S, Nag A, Khawaja AP, Polašek O, Siscovick D, Mitchell P, Tham YC, Haines JL, Kearns LS, Hayward C, Shi Y, van Leeuwen EM, Taylor KD, Taylor KD, Bonnemaijer P, Rotter JI, Martin NG, Zeller T, Mills RA, Staffieri SE, Jonas JB, Schmidtmann I, Boutin T, Kang JH, Lucas SEM, Wong TY, Beutel ME, Wilson JF, Wilson JF, Wilson JF, Uitterlinden AG, Vithana EN, Foster PJ, Hysi PG, Hewitt AW, Khor CC, Pasquale LR, Montgomery GW, Klaver CCW, Aung T, Pfeiffer N, Mackey DA, Hammond CJ, Cheng C-Y, Craig JE, Rabinowitz YS, Wiggs JL, Burdon KP, van Duijn CM, Macgregor S. Cross-ancestry genome-wide association analysis of corneal thickness strengthens link between complex and Mendelian eye diseases. Nat Commun 2018;9(1):1864.Abstract
Central corneal thickness (CCT) is a highly heritable trait associated with complex eye diseases such as keratoconus and glaucoma. We perform a genome-wide association meta-analysis of CCT and identify 19 novel regions. In addition to adding support for known connective tissue-related pathways, pathway analyses uncover previously unreported gene sets. Remarkably, >20% of the CCT-loci are near or within Mendelian disorder genes. These included FBN1, ADAMTS2 and TGFB2 which associate with connective tissue disorders (Marfan, Ehlers-Danlos and Loeys-Dietz syndromes), and the LUM-DCN-KERA gene complex involved in myopia, corneal dystrophies and cornea plana. Using index CCT-increasing variants, we find a significant inverse correlation in effect sizes between CCT and keratoconus (r = -0.62, P = 5.30 × 10) but not between CCT and primary open-angle glaucoma (r = -0.17, P = 0.2). Our findings provide evidence for shared genetic influences between CCT and keratoconus, and implicate candidate genes acting in collagen and extracellular matrix regulation.
Iglesias AI, Mishra A, Vitart V, Bykhovskaya Y, Höhn R, Springelkamp H, Cuellar-Partida G, Gharahkhani P, Bailey JCN, Willoughby CE, Li X, Yazar S, Nag A, Khawaja AP, Polašek O, Siscovick D, Mitchell P, Tham YC, Haines JL, Kearns LS, Hayward C, Shi Y, van Leeuwen EM, Taylor KD, Taylor KD, Bonnemaijer P, Rotter JI, Martin NG, Zeller T, Mills RA, Souzeau E, Staffieri SE, Jonas JB, Schmidtmann I, Boutin T, Kang JH, Lucas SEM, Wong TY, Beutel ME, Wilson JF, Wilson JF, Wilson JF, Uitterlinden AG, Vithana EN, Foster PJ, Hysi PG, Hewitt AW, Khor CC, Pasquale LR, Montgomery GW, Klaver CCW, Aung T, Pfeiffer N, Mackey DA, Hammond CJ, Cheng C-Y, Craig JE, Rabinowitz YS, Wiggs JL, Burdon KP, van Duijn CM, Macgregor S. Author Correction: Cross-ancestry genome-wide association analysis of corneal thickness strengthens link between complex and Mendelian eye diseases. Nat Commun 2019;10(1):155.Abstract
Emmanuelle Souzeau, who contributed to analysis of data, was inadvertently omitted from the author list in the originally published version of this Article. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
Corneal thickness is tightly regulated by its boundary endothelial and epithelial layers. The regulated set-point of corneal thickness likely shows inter-individual variations, changes by age, and response to stress. Using anterior segment-optical coherence tomography, we measure murine central corneal thickness and report on body size scaling of murine central corneal thickness during aging. For aged-matched mice, we find that corneal thickness depends on sex and strain. To shed mechanistic insights into these anatomical changes, we measure epithelial layer integrity and endothelial cell density during the life span of the mice using corneal fluorescein staining and in vivo confocal microscopy, respectively and compare their trends with that of the corneal thickness. Cornea thickness increases initially (1 month: 114.7 ± 3.0 μm, 6 months: 126.3 ± 1.6 μm), reaches a maximum (9 months: 129.3 ± 4.4 μm) and then reduces (12 months: 127 ± 2.9 μm, 13 months: 119.5 ± 7.6 μm, 14 months: 110.6 ± 10.6 μm), while the body size (weight) increases with age. We find that endothelial cell density reduces from 2 months old to 8 months old as the mice age and epithelial layer accumulates damages within this time frame. Finally, we compare murine corneal thickness with those of several other mammals including humans and show that corneal thickness has an allometric scaling with body size. Our results have relevance for organ size regulation, translational pharmacology, and veterinary medicine.
PURPOSE: To assess the effect of dry eye disease (DED) in graft donors on dendritic cell (DC) maturation, host T-cell sensitization, and corneal allograft rejection. METHODS: Corneas of control (healthy donor) and DED mice (C57BL/6) were transplanted onto fully allogeneic naive BALB/c recipients (n = 10 mice/group). Long-term allograft survival was evaluated for 8 weeks. Corneas and draining lymph nodes (dLNs) were harvested at posttransplantation day 14 (n = 5 mice/group). The frequencies of MHCII CD11c DCs in the donor corneas and host dLNs and the frequencies of interferon (IFN)-γ and IL-17 CD4 T cells and Foxp3 expression by Tregs in host dLNs were investigated using flow cytometry. The enzyme-linked immunospot assay was used to assess host T-cell allosensitization through direct and indirect pathways (n = 3/group). RESULTS: Recipients of DED donor corneas showed significantly reduced graft survival (10%) compared with control mice (50% survival, P = 0.022), and had significantly increased frequencies of mature DCs in the grafted cornea (DED donor 44.0% ± 0.36% vs. healthy donor 35.4 ± 0.5%; P < 0.0001) and host dLNs (DED donor 25.1% ± 0.66% vs. healthy donor 13.7% ± 1.6%; P = 0.005). Frequencies of IFN-γ and IL-17 T cells were increased in the dLNs of recipients of DED corneas, whereas the expression (mean fluorescence intensity) of Foxp3 in Tregs was decreased significantly in these mice (DED donor 6004 ± 193 vs. healthy donor 6806 ± 81; P = 0.0002). Enzyme-linked immunospot analysis showed that the direct pathway of allosensitization was significantly amplified in recipients of grafts with DED (P = 0.0146). CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that DED in the donor is a significant risk factor for subsequent corneal allograft rejection.
PURPOSE: To delineate and compare the kinetics of corneal angiogenesis after high-risk (HR) versus low-risk (LR) corneal transplantation. METHODS: In mice, intrastromal sutures were placed in the recipient graft bed 2 weeks before allogeneic transplantation to induce angiogenesis and amplify the risk of graft rejection. Control (LR) graft recipients did not undergo suture placement, and thus the host bed remained avascular at the time of transplantation. Graft hemangiogenesis and opacity scores were evaluated for 8 weeks by slit-lamp biomicroscopy. Immunohistochemistry was used to measure CD31 (blood vessels) and LYVE-1 (lymphatic vessels) cells. RESULTS: Biphasic kinetics were observed for hemangiogenesis in both HR and LR transplant recipients using clinical and immunohistochemical assessments. The biphasic kinetics were composed of a rise-fall (phase 1) followed by a second rise (phase 2) in the degree of vessels. Compared with LR recipients, HR recipients showed higher hemangiogenesis (whole cornea and graft) throughout 8 weeks. Analyzing grafts revealed sustained presence of lymphatic vessels in HR recipients; however, lymphatic neovessels regressed in LR recipients 2 weeks posttransplantation. In contrast to HR host beds, the LR host bed microenvironment cannot sustain the growth of lymphatic neovessels in allografts, whereas it can sustain continued hemangiogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: The sustained presence of lymphatic vessels in HR host beds can facilitate host immunity against allografts and is likely associated with ongoing higher risk of rejection of these grafts in the long term, suggesting that therapeutic interventions targeting inflammation and lymphatic vessels need to be sustained long term in the HR corneal transplant setting.
PURPOSE: Dry eye (DE) disease and depression are increasing in modern times. We investigated the association between DE and depressive symptoms using the iPhone application, DryEyeRhythm. METHODS: This large-scale crowdsourced observational study was conducted within iPhone users in Japan who downloaded DryEyeRhythm. Participants with a Zung Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) score ≥ 40 were defined as having depressive symptoms, and those with an Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) score ≥ 13 were defined as having DE symptoms (mild, 13-22; moderate, 23-32; and severe, 33-100). We compared SDS scores between participants with normal eye and mild, moderate, and severe OSDI-based DE symptoms. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine the association between DE severity and depressive symptoms after adjustment for demographic characteristics, medical history, and lifestyle habits. RESULTS: This study included 4454 participants (mean age, 27.9 ± 12.6 years; female, 66.7%). Participants with SDS scores ≥40 accounted for 58.2%, 70.9%, 79.4%, and 85.0% of normal controls and participants with mild, moderate, and severe DE symptoms, respectively (P trend < 0.001). The adjusted odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for depressive symptoms (SDS score of ≥40) were 1.62 (1.35-1.95) for mild, 2.39 (1.92-2.97) for moderate, and 3.29 (2.70-4.00) for severe DE symptoms. CONCLUSION: This large-scale crowdsourced clinical study using DryEyeRhythm suggests that depressive symptoms are more common in individuals with more severe DE symptoms. DryEyeRhythm could play a role in earlier prevention or future prospective interventions for depressive symptoms in individuals with DE symptoms.
Importance: The incidence of dry eye disease has increased; the potential for crowdsource data to help identify undiagnosed dry eye in symptomatic individuals remains unknown. Objective: To assess the characteristics and risk factors associated with diagnosed and undiagnosed symptomatic dry eye using the smartphone app DryEyeRhythm. Design, Setting, and Participants: A cross-sectional study using crowdsourced data was conducted including individuals in Japan who downloaded DryEyeRhythm and completed the entire questionnaire; duplicate users were excluded. DryEyeRhythm was released on November 2, 2016; the study was conducted from November 2, 2016, to January 12, 2018. Exposures: DryEyeRhythm data were collected on demographics, medical history, lifestyle, subjective symptoms, and disease-specific symptoms, using the Ocular Surface Disease Index (100-point scale; scores 0-12 indicate normal, healthy eyes; 13-22, mild dry eye; 23-32, moderate dry eye; 33-100, severe dry eye symptoms), and the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (total of 20 items, total score ranging from 20-80, with ≥40 highly suggestive of depression). Main Outcomes and Measures: Multivariate-adjusted logistic regression analysis was used to identify risk factors for symptomatic dry eye and to identify risk factors for undiagnosed symptomatic dry eye. Results: A total of 21 394 records were identified in our database; 4454 users, included 899 participants (27.3%) with diagnosed and 2395 participants (72.7%) with undiagnosed symptomatic dry eye, completed all questionnaires and their data were analyzed. A total of 2972 participants (66.7%) were women; mean (SD) age was 27.9 (12.6) years. The identified risk factors for symptomatic vs no symptomatic dry eye included younger age (odds ratio [OR], 0.99; 95% CI, 0.987-0.999, P = .02), female sex (OR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.61-2.46; P < .001), pollinosis (termed hay fever on the questionnaire) (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.18-1.55; P < .001), depression (OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.18-2.69; P = .006), mental illnesses other than depression or schizophrenia (OR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.24-2.82; P = .003), current contact lens use (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.09-1.48; P = .002), extended screen exposure (OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.25-1.91; P < .001), and smoking (OR, 1.65; 95% CI, 1.37-1.98; P < .001). The risk factors for undiagnosed vs diagnosed symptomatic dry eye included younger age (OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.95-0.97; P < .001), male sex (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.42-0.72; P < .001), as well as absence of collagen disease (OR, 95% CI, 0.23; 0.09-0.60; P = .003), mental illnesses other than depression or schizophrenia (OR, 0.50; 95% CI, 0.36-0.69; P < .001), ophthalmic surgery other than cataract surgery and laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.27-0.64; P < .001), and current (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.54-0.77; P < .001) or past (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.34-0.58; P < .001) contact lens use. Conclusions and Relevance: This study's findings suggest that crowdsourced research identified individuals with diagnosed and undiagnosed symptomatic dry eye and the associated risk factors. These findings could play a role in earlier prevention or more effective interventions for dry eye disease.
BACKGROUND: Discontinuation of contact lens use is mainly caused by contact lens-associated dry eye. It is crucial to delineate contact lens-associated dry eye's multifaceted nature to tailor treatment to each patient's individual needs for future personalized medicine. OBJECTIVE: This paper aims to quantify and stratify individual subjective symptoms of contact lens-associated dry eye and clarify its risk factors for future personalized medicine using the smartphone app DryEyeRhythm (Juntendo University). METHODS: This cross-sectional study included iPhone (Apple Inc) users in Japan who downloaded DryEyeRhythm. DryEyeRhythm was used to collect medical big data related to contact lens-associated dry eye between November 2016 and January 2018. The main outcome measure was the incidence of contact lens-associated dry eye. Univariate and multivariate adjusted odds ratios of risk factors for contact lens-associated dry eye were determined by logistic regression analyses. The t-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding algorithm was used to depict the stratification of subjective symptoms of contact lens-associated dry eye. RESULTS: The records of 4454 individuals (median age 27.9 years, SD 12.6), including 2972 female participants (66.73%), who completed all surveys were included in this study. Among the included participants, 1844 (41.40%) were using contact lenses, and among those who used contact lenses, 1447 (78.47%) had contact lens-associated dry eye. Multivariate adjusted odds ratios of risk factors for contact lens-associated dry eye were as follows: younger age, 0.98 (95% CI 0.96-0.99); female sex, 1.53 (95% CI 1.05-2.24); hay fever, 1.38 (95% CI 1.10-1.74); mental illness other than depression or schizophrenia, 2.51 (95% CI 1.13-5.57); past diagnosis of dry eye, 2.21 (95% CI 1.63-2.99); extended screen exposure time >8 hours, 1.61 (95% CI 1.13-2.28); and smoking, 2.07 (95% CI 1.49-2.88). The t-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding analysis visualized and stratified 14 groups based on the subjective symptoms of contact lens-associated dry eye. CONCLUSIONS: This study identified and stratified individuals with contact lens-associated dry eye and its risk factors. Data on subjective symptoms of contact lens-associated dry eye could be used for prospective prevention of contact lens-associated dry eye progression.
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are crucial for allograft survival. Tregs can be divided into thymus-derived natural Tregs (tTregs) and peripherally-derived induced Tregs (pTregs). Here, we determine whether the suppressive function of Treg subsets is hampered in hosts who are at high risk for rejecting their graft. To induce graft beds that promote high risk of transplant rejection, intrastromal corneal sutures were placed two weeks prior to the transplant procedure in mice. We demonstrate that in high-risk recipients the frequencies and function of pTregs (but not tTregs) are suppressed. Reduced function of pTregs correlated with decreased expression of CTLA-4, interleukin-10, and transforming growth factor-β. Adoptive transfer of pTregs from mice at low risk of subsequent graft rejection is able to rescue graft survival in recipients that are at high risk of rejecting their grafts. Our data suggest that impaired function of pTregs, but not tTregs, mediates the loss of immune tolerance and promotes allograft rejection.
To address the shortcomings associated with corneal transplants, substantial efforts have been focused on developing new modalities such as xenotransplantion. Xenogeneic corneas are anatomically and biomechanically similar to the human cornea, yet their applications require prior decellularization to remove the antigenic components to avoid rejection. In the context of bringing decellularized corneas into clinical use, sterilization is a crucial step that determines the success of the transplantation. Well-standardized sterilization methods, such as gamma irradiation (GI), have been applied to decellularized porcine corneas (DPC) to avoid graft-associated infections in human recipients. However, little is known about the effect of GI on decellularized corneal xenografts. Here, we evaluated the radiation effect on the ultrastructure, optical, mechanical and biological properties of DPC. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that gamma irradiated decellularized porcine cornea (G-DPC) preserved its structural integrity. Moreover, the radiation did not reduce the optical properties of the tissue. Neither DPC nor G-DPC led to further activation of complement system compared to native porcine cornea when exposed to plasma. Although, DPC were mechanically comparable to the native tissue, GI increased the mechanical strength, tissue hydrophobicity and resistance to enzymatic degradation. Despite these changes, human corneal epithelial, stromal, endothelial and hybrid neuroblastoma cells grew and differentiated on DPC and G-DPC. Thus, GI may achieve effective tissue sterilization without affecting critical properties that are essential for corneal transplant survival.
Inadequate supplies of donor corneas have evoked an escalating interest in corneal xenotransplantation. However, innate immune responses contribute significantly to the mechanism of xenograft rejection. We hypothesized that complement component C5 and TLR co-receptor CD14 inhibition would inhibit porcine cornea induced innate immune responses. Therefore, we measured cytokine release in human blood, induced by three forms of corneal xenografts with or without inhibitors. Native porcine cornea (NPC) induced interleukins (IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IL-8, IL-1ra), chemokines (MCP-1, MIP-1α, MIP-1β) and other cytokines (TNF, G-CSF, INF-γ, FGF-basic). Decellularized (DPC) and gamma-irradiated cornea (g-DPC) elevated the release of those cytokines. C5-blockade by eculizumab inhibited all the cytokines except G-CSF when induced by NPC. However, C5-blockade failed to reduce DPC and g-DPC induced cytokines. Blockade of CD14 inhibited DPC-induced cytokines except for IL-8, MCP-1, MIP-1α, and G-CSF, while it inhibited all of them when induced by g-DPC. Combined blockade of C5 and CD14 inhibited the maximum number of cytokines regardless of the xenograft type. Finally, by using the TLR4 specific inhibitor Eritoran, we showed that TLR4 activation was the basis for the CD14 effect. Thus, blockade of C5, when combined with TLR4 inhibition, may have therapeutic potential in pig-to-human corneal xenotransplantation. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: Bio-engineered corneal xenografts are on the verge of becoming a viable alternative to allogenic human-donor-cornea, but the host's innate immune response is still a critical barrier for graft acceptance. By overruling this barrier, limited graft availability would no longer be an issue for treating corneal diseases. We showed that the xenograft induced inflammation is initiated by the complement system and toll-like receptor activation. Intriguingly, the inflammatory response was efficiently blocked by simultaneously targeting bottleneck molecules in the complement system (C5) and the TLR co-receptor CD14 with pharmaceutical inhibitors. We postulate that a combination of C5 and CD14 inhibition could have a great therapeutic potential to overcome the immunologic barrier in pig-to-human corneal xenotransplantation.
Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) contain seven species (HAdV-A to -G), each associated with specific disease conditions. Among these, HAdV-D includes those viruses associated with epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC), a severe ocular surface infection. The reasons for corneal tropism for some but not all HAdV-Ds are not known. The fiber protein is a major capsid protein; its C-terminal "knob" mediates binding with host cell receptors to facilitate subsequent viral entry. In a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of HAdV-D capsid genes, fiber knob gene sequences of HAdV-D types associated with EKC formed a unique clade. By proteotyping analysis, EKC virus-associated fiber knobs were uniquely shared. Comparative structural modeling showed no distinct variations in fiber knobs of EKC types but did show variation among HAdV-Ds in a region overlapping with the known CD46 binding site in HAdV-B. We also found signature amino acid positions that distinguish EKC from non-EKC types, and by in vitro studies we showed that corneal epithelial cell tropism can be predicted by the presence of a lysine or alanine at residue 240. This same amino acid residue in EKC viruses shows evidence for positive selection, suggesting that evolutionary pressure enhances fitness in corneal infection, and may be a molecular determinant in EKC pathogenesis. IMPORTANCE: Viruses adapt various survival strategies to gain entry into target host cells. Human adenovirus (HAdV) types are associated with distinct disease conditions, yet evidence for connections between genotype and cellular tropism is generally lacking. Here, we provide a structural and evolutionary basis for the association between specific genotypes within HAdV species D and epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, a severe ocular surface infection. We find that HAdV-D fiber genes of major EKC pathogens, specifically the fiber knob gene region, share a distinct phylogenetic clade. Deeper analysis of the fiber gene revealed that evolutionary pressure at crucial amino acid sites has a significant impact on its structural conformation, which is likely important in host cell binding and entry. Specific amino acids in hot spot residues provide a link to ocular cell tropism and possibly to corneal pathogenesis.
Cultured epidermal cell sheets (CES) containing undifferentiated cells are useful for treating skin burns and have potential for regenerative treatment of other types of epithelial injuries. The undifferentiated phenotype is therefore important for success in both applications. This study aimed to optimize a method for one-week storage of CES for their widespread distribution and use in regenerative medicine. The effect of storage temperatures 4 °C, 8 °C, 12 °C, 16 °C, and 24 °C on CES was evaluated. Analyses included assessment of viability, mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS), membrane damage, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) integrity, morphology, phenotype and cytokine secretion into storage buffer. Lowest cell viability was seen at 4 °C. Compared to non-stored cells, ABCG2 expression increased between temperatures 8-16 °C. At 24 °C, reduced ABCG2 expression coincided with increased mitochondrial ROS, as well as increased differentiation, cell death and mtDNA damage. P63, C/EBPδ, CK10 and involucrin fluorescence combined with morphology observations supported retention of undifferentiated cell phenotype at 12 °C, transition to differentiation at 16 °C, and increased differentiation at 24 °C. Several cytokines relevant to healing were upregulated during storage. Importantly, cells stored at 12 °C showed similar viability and undifferentiated phenotype as the non-stored control suggesting that this temperature may be ideal for storage of CES.
Damage to limbal stem cells as a result of injury or disease can lead to limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). This disease is characterized by decreased vision that is often painful and may progress to blindness. Clinical features include inflammation, neovascularization, and persistent cornea epithelial defects. Successful strategies for treatment involve transplantation of grafts harvested from the limbus of the alternate healthy eye, called conjunctival-limbal autograft (CLAU) and transplantation of limbal cell sheets cultured from limbal biopsies, termed cultured limbal epithelial transplantation (CLET). In 2012, Sangwan and colleagues presented simple limbal epithelial transplantation (SLET), a novel transplantation technique that combines the benefits of CLAU and CLET and avoids the challenges associated with both. In SLET a small biopsy from the limbus of the healthy eye is divided and distributed over human amniotic membrane, which is placed on the affected cornea. Outgrowth occurs from each small explant and a complete corneal epithelium is typically formed within 2 weeks. Advantages of SLET include reduced risk of iatrogenic LSCD occurring in the healthy cornea at harvest; direct transfer circumventing the need for cell culture; and the opportunity to perform biopsy harvest and transplantation in one operation. Success so far using SLET is comparable with CLAU and CLET. Of note, 336 of 404 (83%) operations using SLET resulted in restoration of the corneal epithelium, whereas visual acuity improved in 258 of the 373 (69%) reported cases. This review summarizes the results of 31 studies published on SLET since 2012. Progress, advantages, challenges, and suggestions for future studies are presented.