Purpose: The cornea contains distinct populations of antigen-presenting cells (APCs), including conventional dendritic cells (cDCs). Little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved in cDCs homing and recruitment into the naïve and inflamed cornea. The purpose of this study was to investigate the presence of CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12 in the murine cornea and its role in cDC migration during corneal inflammation. Methods: The expression of CXCR4 and CXCL12 in naïve and suture-inflamed murine corneas was assessed by whole-mount staining, flow cytometry, and quantitative PCR. The role of CXCR4 in recruitment into inflamed corneas was investigated using adoptive transfer of cDCs blocked with neutralizing antibody against CXCR4. Results: We show the chemokine receptor CXCR4 to be expressed on 51.7% and 64.8% of total corneal CD11c+ cDCs, equating to 98.6 ± 12.5 cells/mm2 in the peripheral and 64.7 ± 10.6 cells/mm2 in the central naïve cornea, respectively. Along with a 4.5-fold increase in CXCL12 expression during inflammation (P < 0.05), infiltrating cDCs also expressed CXCR4 in both the peripheral (222.6 ± 33.3 cells/mm2; P < 0.001) and central cornea (161.9 ± 23.8 cells/mm2; P = 0.001), representing a decrease to 31.0% and 37.3% in the cornea, respectively. Further, ex vivo blockade (390.1 ± 40.1 vs. 612.1 ± 78.3; P = 0.008) and local blockade (263.5 ± 27.1 vs. 807.5 ± 179.5, P < 0.001) with anti-CXCR4 neutralizing antibody resulted in a decrease in cDCs homing into the cornea compared with cells pretreated with isotype controls. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that corneal CXCL12 plays a direct role in CXCR4+ cDC recruitment into the cornea. The CXCR4/CXCL12 axis is therefore a potential target to modulate corneal inflammatory responses.
Why ocular mucosa is paucibacterial is unknown. Many different mechanisms have been suggested but the comprehensive experimental studies are sparse. We found that a deficiency in L-plastin (LCP1), an actin bundling protein, resulted in an ocular commensal overgrowth, characterized with increased presence of conjunctival spp. The commensal overgrowth correlated with susceptibility to -induced keratitis. L-plastin knock-out (KO) mice displayed elevated bacterial burden in the -infected corneas, altered inflammatory responses, and compromised bactericidal activity. Mice with ablation of LPL under the LysM Cre ( ) and S100A8 Cre ( ) promoters had a similar phenotype to the LPL KOs mice. In contrast, infected mice did not display elevated susceptibility to infection, implicating the myeloid L-plastin-sufficient cells (e.g., macrophages and neutrophils) in maintaining ocular homeostasis. Mechanistically, the elevated commensal burden and the susceptibility to infection were linked to defects in neutrophil frequencies at steady state and during infection and compromised bactericidal activities upon priming. Macrophage exposure to commensal organisms primed neutrophil responses to , augmenting PMN bactericidal capacity in an L-plastin dependent manner. Cumulatively, our data highlight the importance of neutrophils in controlling ocular paucibacteriality, reveal molecular and cellular events involved in the process, and suggest a link between commensal exposure and resistance to infection.
There is no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for ocular chronic graft-versus-host disease (oGVHD) to date, and current therapeutic options are limited. Forehead application of 1% progesterone gel provides corneal antinociception in preclinical models, suggesting it may be useful in alleviating ocular irritations. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 1% progesterone gel in treating moderate to severe symptomatic oGVHD. Thirty-three patients with oGVHD following allogeneic stem cell transplantation were enrolled in this single-center, sponsor-initiated, prospective exploratory randomized double-masked placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial. The inclusion criteria included a National Institutes of Health consensus score of ≥2, moderate to severe ocular discomfort level, and receipt of a stable immunosuppression regimen. Twenty-one of the 22 patients in the progesterone arm and all 11 patients in the placebo arm completed the course of twice-daily forehead drug application for 10 weeks. The changes from baseline of self-reported ocular symptom scores and physician-recorded cornea fluorescein staining scores were analyzed using mixed-model repeated-measures regression model in an intention-to-treat population. The 33 patients included 12 women and 21 men, with a median age of 66 years (range, 24 to 75 years). At 10 weeks, there was a significant reduction in ocular symptoms from baseline in the progesterone group compared with the placebo group in symptom frequency (-30.7 versus -2.2; P < .001) and severity (-19.8 versus +1.6; P = .005). At 10 weeks, there was also greater reduction of cornea fluorescein staining centrally (-1.2 versus +.1; P = .001) and inferiorly (-1.4 versus -0.2; P = .005). No difference was noted in superior cornea staining. There were no severe adverse events in the progesterone group. Forehead application of 1% progesterone gel significantly improved ocular signs and symptoms within 10 weeks. It appears to be a safe and effective new therapy for oGVHD, and a novel mechanism for neuroaxis drug delivery. A multicenter phase III clinical trial is planned for further validation.
Importance: Corneal endothelial cell (CEnC) damage and loss are major issues in eye banking and transplantation. The underlying mechanisms for CEnC loss are incompletely understood, and cytoprotective strategies that enhance CEnC viability could have a major effect on donor tissue quality and graft survival. Objective: To investigate the cytoprotective role of neuropeptide α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) in preventing CEnC loss in eye bank cold-stored corneas under oxidative and inflammatory cytokine-induced stress. Design, Setting, and Participants: This single-center comparative research study conducted ex vivo experiments using 16 pairs of research-grade human donor corneas (courtesy of Eversight Eye Bank). Data were collected from June 2018 to November 2019, and data were analyzed from December 2019 to January 2020. Exposures: Two corneas from the same donor were randomized to either control or 0.1 mmol/L of α-MSH treatment and then subjected to oxidative stress (1.4 mmol/L of hydrogen peroxide-phosphate-buffered saline for 15 minutes at 37 °C; n = 8 pairs) or cytokine-induced stress (100 ng/mL of tumor necrosis factor-α and 100 ng/mL of interferon γ for 18 hours at 37 °C; n = 8 pairs). Corneas were then stored at 4 °C. Specular images were taken at baseline and repeated twice per week using a calibrated wide-field specular microscope. CEnC viability was assessed using a fluorescent live/dead viability assay. Main Outcome and Measures: Endothelial morphometry analysis, central corneal thickness measurements, and percentage of dead cells at day 11. Results: Of 16 donors who provided corneas, 9 (56%) were male, and the mean (SD) age was 57.9 (12.4) years. Corneas were paired, and baseline parameters were comparable between all groups. At all time points, CEnC loss was lower in the α-MSH groups compared with the control groups. This difference was statistically significant after cytokine-induced stress (20.2% vs 35.2%; sample estimate of median, -14.9; 95% CI, -23.6 to -6.3; P = .008). Compared with the control group, α-MSH treatment resulted in a smaller increase in central corneal thickness (cytokine-induced stress: 89.3 μm vs 169.8 μm; sample estimate of median, -84.9; 95% CI, -131.5 to -41.6; P = .008; oxidative stress: 43.6 μm vs 111.9 μm; sample estimate of median, -68.8; 95% CI, -100.0 to -34.5; P = .008) and a smaller proportion of cell death (cytokine-induced stress: 2.7% vs 10.4%; difference, -7.7; 95% CI, -13.1 to -2.4; P = .01; oxidative stress: 2.9% vs 12.4%; difference, 9.5; 95% CI, 5.1 to 13.9; P = .006). Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, α-MSH treatment attenuated CEnC loss during cold storage after acute oxidative and cytokine-induced stress in human eye bank cold-stored corneas. These data suggest that supplementation of corneal storage solution with α-MSH may positively affect CEnC survival after transplant and protect the endothelium from proinflammatory cytokines and oxidative stress after full-thickness or endothelial keratoplasty, which is particularly valuable in patients at high risk of graft failure.
Corneal transplantation is the most common form of tissue transplantation. The success of corneal transplantation mainly relies on the integrity of corneal endothelial cells (CEnCs), which maintain tissue transparency by pumping out excess water from the cornea. After transplantation, the rate of CEnC loss far exceeds that seen with normal aging, and this can threaten sight. The underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) is a neuropeptide that is constitutively found in the aqueous humor with both cytoprotective and immunomodulatory effects. We found high expression of melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), the receptor for α-MSH, on CEnCs. We then set to determine the effect of α-MSH/MC1R signaling on endothelial function and allograft survival in vitro and in vivo using MC1R signaling-deficient mice (Mc1re/e mice with a nonfunctional MC1R). Herein, we show that in addition to its well-known immunomodulatory effect, α-MSH has cytoprotective effects on CEnCs after corneal transplantation and the loss of MC1R signaling significantly decreases long-term graft survival in vivo. In conclusion, α-MSH/MC1R signaling is critical for CEnC function and graft survival after corneal transplantation.
Cryopreserved amniotic membrane (AM) transplantation is an emerging technique that is becoming the gold standard for the management of acute Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and its more severe variant, toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). We describe a novel surgical technique utilizing a single, large sheet of AM (5 x 10 cm) and a custom-made forniceal ring, which facilitates AM placement. Our technique is easy to use and minimizes suturing and manipulation of ocular tissues, resulting in decreased operative time. This technique may be applied in the management of multiple ocular surface disease processes, including chemical or thermal burns, severe ocular graft versus host disease (GVHD), and other autoimmune diseases.
PURPOSE: To report a case of Ochrobactrum anthropi keratitis in an eye with a Boston type 1 keratoprosthesis. METHODS: This is a case report and review of the literature. RESULTS: A 78-year-old man with a history of implantation of a Boston type 1 keratoprosthesis in the left eye presented for a routine follow-up with no acute complaints. In the left eye, visual acuity was 20/60 and slit-lamp examination revealed a 1.5-mm inferotemporal corneal infiltrate adjacent to the optic stem. Corneal cultures grew abundant O. anthropi. After 7 weeks of topical antimicrobial therapy and placement of a temporary tarsorrhaphy, the keratitis resolved. CONCLUSIONS: Ochrobactrum anthropi is an organism associated with indwelling medical devices and can be pathogenic in eyes with implanted keratoprostheses.
BACKGROUND: Eyelid warming is an important treatment for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Specialized chambered devices, using warm moist air have been developed. PURPOSE: To critically evaluate the literature on the safety and efficacy of chambered warm moist air devices in MGD treatment and pinpoint areas of future research. METHODS: PubMed and Embase were searched on 06 June 2021. The search term was '(warm OR heat OR steam OR goggle OR spectacle OR moist air) AND (meibomian OR MGD OR blepharitis OR eyelid OR dry eye OR DED)'. All relevant articles with available English full text were included. RESULTS: Eighteen articles assessing the application of chambered warm moist air eyelid warming devices were identified. In single-application studies, steam-based eyelid warming increased the eyelid temperature and improved symptoms, lipid layer thickness, and tear film breakup time (TBUT). In treatment studies, the steam-based devices improved TBUT and symptom scores. However, in the only randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing chambered steam-based heat to hot towel treatment, there was no difference between groups for the primary outcome measure; the proportion of subjects noting symptom improvement after 4 weeks. CONCLUSION: Currently available chambered warm moist air eyelid warming devices are safe and effective at raising eyelid temperature to therapeutic levels and improving signs and symptoms of dry eye. However, it is not clear if they provide a greater benefit than other eyelid warming therapies. Further well-conducted RCTs comparing moist and dry heat devices should be conducted on patients across the range of DED severities and subtype spectrum.
The conjunctiva can be damaged by numerous diseases with scarring, loss of tissue and dysfunction. Depending on extent of damage, restoration of function may require a conjunctival graft. A wide variety of biological and synthetic substrates have been tested in the search for optimal conditions for ex vivo culture of conjunctival epithelial cells as a route toward tissue grafts. Each substrate has specific advantages but also disadvantages related to their unique physical and biological characteristics, and identification and development of an improved substrate remains a priority. To achieve the goal of mimicking and restoring a biological material, requires information from the material. Specifically, extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from conjunctival tissue. Knowledge of the composition and structure of native ECM and identifying contributions of individual components to its function would enable using or mimicking those components to develop improved biological substrates. ECM is comprised of two components: basement membrane secreted predominantly by epithelial cells containing laminins and type IV collagens, which directly support epithelial and goblet cell adhesion differentiation and growth and, interstitial matrix secreted by fibroblasts in lamina propria, which provides mechanical and structural support. This review presents current knowledge on anatomy, composition of conjunctival ECM and related conjunctival disorders. Requirements of potential substrates for conjunctival tissue engineering and transplantation are discussed. Biological and synthetic substrates and their components are described in an accompanying review.
The conjunctiva is the largest component of the ocular surface. It can be damaged by various pathological processes leading to scarring, loss of tissue and dysfunction. Depending on the amount of damage, restoration of function may require a conjunctival graft. Numerous studies have investigated biological and synthetic substrates in the search for optimal conditions for the ex vivo culture of conjunctival epithelial cells that can be used as tissue grafts for transplantation. These substrates have advantages and disadvantages that are specific to the characteristics of each material; the development of an improved material remains a priority. This review is the second of a two-part review in The Ocular Surface. In the first review, the structure and function of the conjunctiva was evaluated with a focus on the extracellular matrix and the basement membrane, and biological and mechanical characteristics of the ideal substrate with recommendations for further studies. In this review the types of biological and synthetic substrates used for conjunctival transplantation are discussed including substrates based on the extracellular matrix. .
Goblet cell numbers decrease within the conjunctival epithelium in drying and cicatrizing ocular surface diseases. Factors regulating goblet cell differentiation in conjunctival epithelium are unknown. Recent data indicate that the transcription factor SAM-pointed domain epithelial-specific transcription factor (Spdef) is essential for goblet cell differentiation in tracheobronchial and gastrointestinal epithelium of mice. Using Spdef(-/-) mice, we determined that Spdef is required for conjunctival goblet cell differentiation and that Spdef(-/-) mice, which lack conjunctival goblet cells, have significantly increased corneal surface fluorescein staining and tear volume, a phenotype consistent with dry eye. Microarray analysis of conjunctival epithelium in Spdef(-/-) mice revealed down-regulation of goblet cell-specific genes (Muc5ac, Tff1, Gcnt3). Up-regulated genes included epithelial cell differentiation/keratinization genes (Sprr2h, Tgm1) and proinflammatory genes (Il1-α, Il-1β, Tnf-α), all of which are up-regulated in dry eye. Interestingly, four Wnt pathway genes were down-regulated. SPDEF expression was significantly decreased in the conjunctival epithelium of Sjögren syndrome patients with dry eye and decreased goblet cell mucin expression. These data demonstrate that Spdef is required for conjunctival goblet cell differentiation and down-regulation of SPDEF may play a role in human dry eye with goblet cell loss. Spdef(-/-) mice have an ocular surface phenotype similar to that in moderate dry eye, providing a new, more convenient model for the disease.
Conjunctivochalasis (CCH) is a bilateral conjunctival condition characterized by loose, redundant conjunctival folds, typically in the inferior bulbar conjunctiva. It is a common cause of ocular irritation, especially in older age. For asymptomatic CCH, no treatment is necessary. For treatment of symptomatic CCH, however, a variety of medical and surgical approaches are currently available, which will be thoroughly appraised in this review article. The first step in the management is medical therapy, which involves enhanced lubrication and use of anti-inflammatory medications. In refractory cases, a surgical approach may be undertaken for symptom relief. Several techniques have been described for this, with varying success rates. These include conjunctival cauterization, conjunctival excision, scleral fixation of the conjunctiva, conjunctival ligation, laser conjunctivoplasty, and radiowave electrosurgery. Among these, conjunctival cauterization and excision of the redundant conjunctiva, with or without tissue grafting, have gained popularity.
Mucins are a family of high molecular weight, heavily-glycosylated proteins produced by wet epithelial tissues, including the ocular surface epithelia. Densely-packed O-linked glycan chains added post-translationally confer the biophysical properties of hydration, lubrication, anti-adhesion and repulsion. Membrane-associated mucins (MAMs) are the distinguishing components of the mucosal glycocalyx. At the ocular surface, MAMs maintain wetness, lubricate the blink, stabilize the tear film, and create a physical barrier to the outside world. In addition, it is increasingly appreciated that MAMs function as cell surface receptors that transduce information from the outside to the inside of the cell. Recently, our team published a comprehensive review/perspectives article for molecular scientists on ocular surface MAMs, including previously unpublished data and analyses on two new genes MUC21 and MUC22, as well as new MAM functions and biological roles, comparing human and mouse (PMID: 31493487). The current article is a refocus for the audience of The Ocular Surface. First, we update the gene and protein information in a more concise form, and include a new section on glycosylation. Next, we discuss biological roles, with some new sections and further updating from our previous review. Finally, we provide a new chapter on MAM involvement in ocular surface disease. We end this with discussion of an emerging mechanism responsible for damage to the epithelia and their mucosal glycocalyces: the unfolded protein response (UPR). The UPR offers a novel target for therapeutic intervention.
The mucosal epithelia of the ocular surface protect against external threats to the eye. Using a model of human stratified corneal epithelial cells with mucosal differentiation, we previously demonstrated that a small molecule inhibitor of dynamin GTPases, dynasore, prevents damage to cells and their transcellular barriers when subjected to oxidative stress. Investigating mechanisms, we now report the novel finding that dynasore acts by maintaining Ca homeostasis, thereby inhibiting the PERK branch of the unfolded protein response (UPR) that promotes cell death. Dynasore was found to protect mitochondria by preventing mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening (mPTP), but, unlike reports using other systems, this was not mediated by dynamin family member DRP1. Necrostatin-1, an inhibitor of RIPK1 and lytic forms of programmed cell death, also inhibited mPTP opening and further protected the plasma membrane barrier. Significantly, necrostatin-1 did not protect the mucosal barrier. Oxidative stress increased mRNA for sXBP1, a marker of the IRE1 branch of the UPR, and CHOP, a marker of the PERK branch. It also stimulated phosphorylation of eIF2α, the upstream regulator of CHOP, as well as an increase in intracellular Ca. Dynasore selectively inhibited the increase in PERK branch markers, and also prevented the increase intracellular Ca in response to oxidative stress. The increase in PERK branch markers were also inhibited when cells were treated with the cell permeable Ca chelator, BAPTA-AM. To our knowledge, this is the first time that dynasore has been shown to have an effect on the UPR and suggests therapeutic applications.
PURPOSE: To evaluate the therapeutic effect of subconjunctival injection of human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) in the cornea of mice with graft versus host disease (GVHD). METHODS: GVHD was induced in mice after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) between MHC-mismatched mouse strains. Subconjunctival injection of hMSCs was applied at day 10 post-HSCT. Infiltration of CD3 cells in the cornea and epithelial alterations were analyzed by immunofluorescence. Tear was assessed using the PRT test and TearLab Osmolarity System. qPCR was used to evaluate changes in cytokines, Pax6 and Sprr1b expression. To evaluate the effect of irradiation, we analyzed the expression of these genes in TBI mice. RESULTS: Immune cell invasion occurs in mice with GVHD, as shown by the presence of CD3 cells in the cornea. Interestingly, eyes treated with hMSC did not present CD3 cells. Tear osmolarity was increased in GVHD eyes, but not in treated eyes. TNFa expression was highly increased in all corneas except in Control and treated eyes. Pax6 in corneal epithelium showed a similar pattern in GVHD and Control mice, and its gene expression was enhanced in GVHD corneas. In contrast, Pax6 was reduced in GVHD + MSC corneas. We also found an increase in SPRR1B staining in GVHD eyes that was lower in GVHD + MSC mice, demonstrating that corneal keratinization is less frequent after treatment with hMSC. CONCLUSIONS: The treatment with hMSCs by subconjunctival injection is effective in reducing corneal inflammation and squamous metaplasia in ocular GVHD (oGVHD). Local treatment with hMSCs is a promising strategy for oGVHD.
BACKGROUND: Interaction of transmembrane mucins with the multivalent carbohydrate-binding protein galectin-3 is critical to maintaining the integrity of the ocular surface epithelial glycocalyx. This study aimed to determine whether disruption of galectin-3 multimerization and insertion of synthetic glycopolymers in the plasma membrane could be used to modulate glycocalyx barrier function in corneal epithelial cells. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Abrogation of galectin-3 biosynthesis in multilayered cultures of human corneal epithelial cells using siRNA, and in galectin-3 null mice, resulted in significant loss of corneal barrier function, as indicated by increased permeability to the rose bengal diagnostic dye. Addition of β-lactose, a competitive carbohydrate inhibitor of galectin-3 binding activity, to the cell culture system, transiently disrupted barrier function. In these experiments, treatment with a dominant negative inhibitor of galectin-3 polymerization lacking the N-terminal domain, but not full-length galectin-3, prevented the recovery of barrier function to basal levels. As determined by fluorescence microscopy, both cellobiose- and lactose-containing glycopolymers incorporated into apical membranes of corneal epithelial cells, independently of the chain length distribution of the densely glycosylated, polymeric backbones. Membrane incorporation of cellobiose glycopolymers impaired barrier function in corneal epithelial cells, contrary to their lactose-containing counterparts, which bound to galectin-3 in pull-down assays. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: These results indicate that galectin-3 multimerization and surface recognition of lactosyl residues is required to maintain glycocalyx barrier function at the ocular surface. Transient modification of galectin-3 binding could be therapeutically used to enhance the efficiency of topical drug delivery.
PURPOSE: Amino-amide or amino-ester local anesthetics, which are currently used for topical ocular anesthesia, are short acting and may delay corneal healing with long-term use. In contrast, site 1 sodium channel blockers (S1SCBs) are potent local anesthetics with minimal adverse tissue reaction. In this study, we examined topical local anesthesia with two S1SCBs, tetrodotoxin (TTX) or saxitoxin (STX) individually or in combination with α2-adrenergic receptor agonists (dexmedetomidine or clonidine), and compared them with the amino-ester ocular anesthetic proparacaine. The effect of test solutions on corneal healing was also studied. METHODS: Solutions of TTX ± dexmedetomidine, TTX ± clonidine, STX ± dexmedetomidine, dexmedetomidine, or proparacaine were applied to the rat cornea. Tactile sensitivity was measured by recording the blink response to probing of the cornea with a Cochet-Bonnet esthesiometer. The duration of corneal anesthesia was calculated. Cytotoxicity from anesthetic solutions was measured in vitro. The effect on corneal healing was measured in vivo after corneal debridement followed by repeated drug administration. RESULTS: Addition of dexmedetomidine to TTX or STX significantly prolonged corneal anesthesia beyond that of either drug alone, whereas clonidine did not. Tetrodotoxin or STX coadministered with dexmedetomidine resulted in two to three times longer corneal anesthesia than did proparacaine. S1SCB-dexmedetomidine formulations were not cytotoxic. Corneal healing was not delayed significantly by any of the test solutions. CONCLUSIONS: Coadministration of S1SCBs with dexmedetomidine provided prolonged corneal anesthesia without delaying corneal wound healing. Such formulations may be useful for the management of acute surgical and nonsurgical corneal pain.
Dynamic modification of nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins with O-linked β-N-acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc) plays an important role in orchestrating the transcriptional activity of eukaryotic cells. Here, we report that the O-GlcNAc modification contributes to maintaining ocular surface epithelial homeostasis by promoting mucin biosynthesis and barrier function. We found that induction of human corneal epithelial cell differentiation stimulated the global transfer of O-GlcNAc to both nuclear and cytosolic proteins. Inflammatory conditions, on the other hand, were associated with a reduction in the expression of O-GlcNAc transferase at the ocular surface epithelia. Loss- and gain-of-function studies using small interfering RNA targeting O-GlcNAc transferase, or Thiamet G, a selective inhibitor of O-GlcNAc hydrolase, respectively, revealed that the presence of O-GlcNAc was necessary to promote glycocalyx barrier function. Moreover, we found that Thiamet G triggered a correlative increase in both surface expression of MUC16 and apical epithelial cell area while reducing paracellular permeability. Collectively, these results identify intracellular protein O-glycosylation as a novel pathway responsible for promoting the terminal differentiation of human corneal epithelial cells.