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Schwartz SD, Regillo CD, Lam BL, Eliott D, Rosenfeld PJ, Gregori NZ, Hubschman J-P, Davis JL, Heilwell G, Spirn M, Maguire J, Gay R, Bateman J, Ostrick RM, Morris D, Vincent M, Anglade E, Del Priore LV, Lanza R. Human embryonic stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium in patients with age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt's macular dystrophy: follow-up of two open-label phase 1/2 studies. Lancet 2015;385(9967):509-16.Abstract

BACKGROUND: Since they were first derived more than three decades ago, embryonic stem cells have been proposed as a source of replacement cells in regenerative medicine, but their plasticity and unlimited capacity for self-renewal raises concerns about their safety, including tumour formation ability, potential immune rejection, and the risk of differentiating into unwanted cell types. We report the medium-term to long-term safety of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) transplanted into patients. METHODS: In the USA, two prospective phase 1/2 studies were done to assess the primary endpoints safety and tolerability of subretinal transplantation of hESC-derived retinal pigment epithelium in nine patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy (age >18 years) and nine with atrophic age-related macular degeneration (age >55 years). Three dose cohorts (50,000, 100,000, and 150,000 cells) were treated for each eye disorder. Transplanted patients were followed up for a median of 22 months by use of serial systemic, ophthalmic, and imaging examinations. The studies are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, numbers NCT01345006 (Stargardt's macular dystrophy) and NCT01344993 (age-related macular degeneration). FINDINGS: There was no evidence of adverse proliferation, rejection, or serious ocular or systemic safety issues related to the transplanted tissue. Adverse events were associated with vitreoretinal surgery and immunosuppression. 13 (72%) of 18 patients had patches of increasing subretinal pigmentation consistent with transplanted retinal pigment epithelium. Best-corrected visual acuity, monitored as part of the safety protocol, improved in ten eyes, improved or remained the same in seven eyes, and decreased by more than ten letters in one eye, whereas the untreated fellow eyes did not show similar improvements in visual acuity. Vision-related quality-of-life measures increased for general and peripheral vision, and near and distance activities, improving by 16-25 points 3-12 months after transplantation in patients with atrophic age-related macular degeneration and 8-20 points in patients with Stargardt's macular dystrophy. INTERPRETATION: The results of this study provide the first evidence of the medium-term to long-term safety, graft survival, and possible biological activity of pluripotent stem cell progeny in individuals with any disease. Our results suggest that hESC-derived cells could provide a potentially safe new source of cells for the treatment of various unmet medical disorders requiring tissue repair or replacement. FUNDING: Advanced Cell Technology.

Lei H, Qian CX, Lei J, Haddock LJ, Mukai S, Kazlauskas A. RasGAP Promotes Autophagy and Thereby Suppresses Platelet-Derived Growth Factor Receptor-Mediated Signaling Events, Cellular Responses, and Pathology. Mol Cell Biol 2015;35(10):1673-85.Abstract
Platelet-derived growth factors (PDGFs) and their receptors (PDGFRs) make profound contributions to both physiology and pathology. While it is widely believed that direct (PDGF-mediated) activation is the primary mode of activating PDGFRs, the discovery that they can also be activated indirectly begs the question of the relevance of the indirect mode of activating PDGFRs. In the context of a blinding eye disease, indirect activation of PDGFRα results in persistent signaling, which suppresses the level of p53 and thereby promotes viability of cells that drive pathogenesis. Under the same conditions, PDGFRβ fails to undergo indirect activation. In this paper, we report that RasGAP (GTPase-activating protein of Ras) prevented indirect activation of PDGFRβ. RasGAP, which associates with PDGFRβ but not PDGFRα, reduced the level of mitochondrion-derived reactive oxygen species, which are required for enduring activation of PDGFRs. Furthermore, preventing PDGFRβ from associating with RasGAP allowed it to signal enduringly and drive pathogenesis of a blinding eye disease. These results indicate a previously unappreciated role of RasGAP in antagonizing indirect activation of PDGFRβ, define the underlying mechanism, and raise the possibility that PDGFRβ-mediated diseases involve indirect activation of PDGFRβ.
Utheim O, Islam R, Lyberg T, Roald B, Eidet JR, de la Paz MF, Dartt DA, Raeder S, Utheim TP. Serum-free and xenobiotic-free preservation of cultured human limbal epithelial cells. PLoS One 2015;10(3):e0118517.Abstract

AIM/PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: To develop a one-week storage method, without serum and xenobiotics, that would maintain cell viability, morphology, and phenotype of cultured human limbal epithelial sheets. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Human limbal explants were cultured on intact human amniotic membranes for two weeks. The sheets were stored in a hermetically sealed container at 23°C in either a serum-free medium with selected animal serum-derived compounds (Quantum 286) or a xenobiotic-free medium (Minimal Essential Medium) for 4 and 7 days. Stored and non-stored cultures were analyzed for cell viability, amniotic membrane and epithelial sheet thickness, and a panel of immunohistochemical markers for immature cells (ΔNp63α, p63, Bmi-1, C/EBP∂, ABCG2 and K19), differentiated cells (K3 and Cx43), proliferation (PCNA), and apoptosis (Caspase-3). RESULTS: The cell viability of the cultures was 98 ± 1% and remained high after storage. Mean central thickness of non-stored limbal epithelial sheets was 23 ± 3 μm, and no substantial loss of cells was observed after storage. The non-stored epithelial sheets expressed a predominantly immature phenotype with ΔNp63α positivity of more than 3% in 9 of 13 cultures. After storage, the expression of ABCG2 and C/EBP∂ was reduced for the 7 day Quantum 286-storage group; (P = 0.04), and Bmi-1 was reduced after 4 day Quantum 286-storage; (P = 0.02). No other markers varied significantly. The expression of differentiation markers was unrelated to the thickness of the epithelia and amniotic membrane, apart from ABCG2, which correlated negatively with thickness of limbal epithelia (R = -0.69, P = 0.01) and ΔNp63α, which correlated negatively with amniotic membrane thickness (R = -0.59, P = 0.03). CONCLUSION: Limbal epithelial cells cultured from explants on amniotic membrane can be stored at 23°C in both serum-free and xenobiotic-free media, with sustained cell viability, ultrastructure, and ΔNp63α-positivity after both 4 and 7 days.

Mundell NA, Beier KT, Pan AY, Lapan SW, Göz Aytürk D, Berezovskii VK, Wark AR, Drokhlyansky E, Bielecki J, Born RT, Schier AF, Cepko CL. Vesicular stomatitis virus enables gene transfer and transsynaptic tracing in a wide range of organisms. J Comp Neurol 2015;523(11):1639-63.Abstract

Current limitations in technology have prevented an extensive analysis of the connections among neurons, particularly within nonmammalian organisms. We developed a transsynaptic viral tracer originally for use in mice, and then tested its utility in a broader range of organisms. By engineering the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) to encode a fluorophore and either the rabies virus glycoprotein (RABV-G) or its own glycoprotein (VSV-G), we created viruses that can transsynaptically label neuronal circuits in either the retrograde or anterograde direction, respectively. The vectors were investigated for their utility as polysynaptic tracers of chicken and zebrafish visual pathways. They showed patterns of connectivity consistent with previously characterized visual system connections, and revealed several potentially novel connections. Further, these vectors were shown to infect neurons in several other vertebrates, including Old and New World monkeys, seahorses, axolotls, and Xenopus. They were also shown to infect two invertebrates, Drosophila melanogaster, and the box jellyfish, Tripedalia cystophora, a species previously intractable for gene transfer, although no clear evidence of transsynaptic spread was observed in these species. These vectors provide a starting point for transsynaptic tracing in most vertebrates, and are also excellent candidates for gene transfer in organisms that have been refractory to other methods.

Jakobiec FA, Callahan AB, Stagner AM, Lee GN, Rashid A, Mendoza P, Grove A, Freitag SK. Malignant rhabdoid transformation of a longstanding, aggressive, and recurrent orbital angiomyxoma. Surv Ophthalmol 2015;60(2):166-76.Abstract

A 47-year-old woman presented with a medial orbital tumor initially diagnosed as either a myxoid neurofibroma or myoepithelioma. Over 30 years the tumor recurred seven times and was serially debulked. Careful histopathologic analysis coupled with immunohistochemical studies performed on the last two biopsies established the rare diagnosis of a locally aggressive angiomyxoma (because of its local infiltrative growth) with myofibroblastic features (smooth muscle actin and calponin positivity and desmin negativity). The last recurrence manifested at a shorter interval than the earlier ones, suggesting an accelerating clinical course. By this late stage there was complete blindness, a frozen globe, and extreme, unmeasurable proptosis accompanied by massive chemosis and eyelid fullness. An exenteration was performed, and the orbital contents contained a persistent angiomyxoma, but additionally, another cellular population had emerged-mitotically active cells with a malignant rhabdoid phenotype (round shape, cytoplasmic hyaline/globoid inclusions composed of whorls of compact vimentin filaments as well as epithelial membrane antigen and focal cytokeratin positivity). This is the first orbital case of a rhabdoid transformation of a benign orbital mesenchymal tumor. Shortly after the exenteration, multifocal metastases, notably to the lungs, were found, leading to the introduction of chemotherapy, which was discontinued because of non-responsiveness of the tumor and patient intolerance. After 1 year of follow up, the patient is still alive, but has persistent active disease with widespread metastases and a guarded prognosis.

Balasubramanian R, Chew S, MacKinnon SE, Kang PB, Andrews C, Chan W-M, Engle EC. Expanding the phenotypic spectrum and variability of endocrine abnormalities associated with TUBB3 E410K syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2015;100(3):E473-7.Abstract

CONTEXT: A heterozygous de novo c.1228G>A mutation (E410K) in the TUBB3 gene encoding the neuronal-specific β-tubulin isotype 3 (TUBB3) causes the TUBB3 E410K syndrome characterized by congenital fibrosis of the extraocular muscles (CFEOM), facial weakness, intellectual and social disabilities, and Kallmann syndrome (anosmia with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism). All TUBB3 E410K subjects reported to date are sporadic cases. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to report the clinical, genetic, and molecular features of a familial presentation of the TUBB3 E410K syndrome. DESIGN: Case report of a mother and three affected children with clinical features of the TUBB3 E410K syndrome. SETTING: Academic Medical Center. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Genetic analysis of the TUBB3 gene and clinical evaluation of endocrine and nonendocrine phenotypes. RESULTS: A de novo TUBB3 c.1228G>A mutation arose in a female proband who displayed CFEOM, facial weakness, intellectual and social disabilities, and anosmia. However, she underwent normal sexual development at puberty and had three spontaneous pregnancies with subsequent autosomal-dominant inheritance of the mutation by her three boys. All sons displayed nonendocrine features of the TUBB3 E410K syndrome similar to their mother but, in addition, had variable features suggestive of additional endocrine abnormalities. CONCLUSIONS: This first report of an autosomal-dominant inheritance of the TUBB3 c.1228G>A mutation in a family provides new insights into the spectrum and variability of endocrine phenotypes associated with the TUBB3 E410K syndrome. These observations emphasize the need for appropriate clinical evaluation and complicate genetic counseling of patients and families with this syndrome.

Marra KV, Wagley S, Omar A, Kinoshita T, Kovacs KD, Silva P, Kuperwaser MC, Arroyo JG. Case-matched comparison of vitrectomy, peripheral retinal endolaser, and endocyclophotocoagulation versus standard care in neovascular glaucoma. Retina 2015;35(6):1072-83.Abstract

PURPOSE: To evaluate the efficacy of combination pars plana vitrectomy, endoscopic peripheral panretinal photocoagulation, and endocyclophotocoagulation (ECP) as compared with standard care in patients with neovascular glaucoma. METHODS: This age-matched case-controlled retrospective series of 54 eyes compared the clinical outcomes between a consecutive series of combination pars plana vitrectomy/panretinal photocoagulation/ECP (n = 27) versus the current standard of care (n = 27) for patients with neovascular glaucoma. "Standard" treatments for patients with neovascular glaucoma include panretinal photocoagulation, intravitreal bevacizumab, filtration surgery, pars plana vitrectomy, and Ahmed valve placement. RESULTS: After 1 year, mean intraocular pressure reduced from 40.7 ± 12.40 mmHg preoperatively to 12.3 ± 4.84 mmHg (P < 0.001) in the ECP group and from 34.7 ± 12.38 mmHg to 23.2 ± 12.34 mmHg in the control group (P = 0.002). Compared with controls, the mean drop in intraocular pressure in the ECP group was significantly greater at all postoperative visits. Logarithm of the minimal angle of resolution visual acuity outcomes were similar in both groups. There were 2 cases (7.4%) of postoperative phthisis bulbi in each group. CONCLUSION: Endoscopic pars plana vitrectomy, panretinal photocoagulation, and ECP seem to control intraocular pressure to a greater extent than standard glaucoma treatments in patients with neovascular glaucoma. In this aged-matched comparative case series, there was no significant difference between the two treatments' effects on visual acuity.

Wu H, de Boer JF, Chen L, Chen TC. Correlation of localized glaucomatous visual field defects and spectral domain optical coherence tomography retinal nerve fiber layer thinning using a modified structure-function map for OCT. Eye (Lond) 2015;29(4):525-33.Abstract

PurposeTo study the correlation between glaucomatous visual field (VF) defects assessed by standard automated perimetry (SAP) and peripapillary retinal nerve fiber layer (RNFL) thinning measured by spectral domain optical coherence tomography (OCT) using a modified OCT-based peripapillary RNFL structure-function map.Patients and methodsPerimetric glaucoma patients and age-matched normal control subjects were recruited from a university hospital clinic. All eyes underwent testing with the Spectralis spectral domain OCT and SAP on the same day. An OCT-based correspondence map, which correlated VF areas with peripapillary RNFL sectors was created to evaluate the relationship between glaucomatous RNFL thinning and VF loss in six nerve fiber layer bundle areas. Correlations of RNFL thinning with corresponding VF defects were examined using Spearman rank-order correlations. To demonstrate the association between localized VF defects and RNFL thickness, the theoretical curves were made according to an established log-linear model. The measured RNFL thickness values and VF defects were presented in the same scatterplot for each sector.ResultsFifty-six glaucoma patients and 85 normal subjects were included in the study. Significant association between localized VF loss and RNFL thinning was found in corresponding areas. Data from the current study fit well with established log-linear models, which compare RNFL thickness values with VF defects.ConclusionAnalysis of RNFL thinning in eyes with localized glaucomatous VF defects showed good structure-function correlation in a new OCT-based structure-function correspondence map.

Jakobiec FA, Roh M, Stagner AM, Yoon MK. Caruncular dacryops. Cornea 2015;34(1):107-9.Abstract

PURPOSE: To report a case of caruncular dacryops in a 58-year-old man that was excised in its entirety and to offer an immunohistopathologic analysis. METHODS: Sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin, periodic acid-Schiff, and Grocott methenamine silver (the latter 2 for identification of mucus) were evaluated, and immunohistochemical investigations were performed using cytokeratin (CK) 7, CK14, CK17, and smooth muscle actin. RESULTS: Histopathologic examination revealed a cystic dilation of the lacrimal gland ducts containing secretory globules. The ducts were composed of double-layered cuboidal epithelium with rare scattered goblet cells and interspersed prominent lobules of lacrimal gland tissue, diagnostic of dacryops. Immunohistochemistry of cystic ducts demonstrated a CK profile identical to that of the conjunctiva including the absence of a myoepithelium. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first case of an intact caruncular lacrimal ductal cyst (dacryops). A previous report documented a spontaneously collapsed cyst with extrusion of secretory globoid bodies into extracellular space that elicited a foreign body giant cell response.

Mukherjee S, Zhou X, Rajaiya J, Chodosh J. Ultrastructure of adenovirus keratitis. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2015;56(1):472-7.Abstract

PURPOSE: We determined the ultrastructure of mouse adenovirus keratitis, a model for human adenovirus keratitis. METHODS: Adenovirus keratitis was induced in C57Bl/6j mice by intrastromal injection of human adenovirus species D type 37 (HAdV-D37) with a heat-pulled, glass, micropipette needle under compressed air. At select time points after infection, mice were euthanized and their corneas removed, fixed, and sectioned at 70-nm thickness for electron microscopy. RESULTS: Injection of HAdV-D37 into the mouse corneal stroma placed virus predominantly in the pericellular corneal stromal matrix. Virus was seen bound to and entering stromal cells at 1 and 2 hours after infection, respectively. Cell membrane transit by virus was seen to involve two distinct structures resembling caveolae and macropinosomes. However, later during infection intracellular virus was not seen within membrane-bound organelles. By 8 hours after infection, intracellular virus had accumulated into densely packed, perinuclear arrays. Virus disassembly was not obvious at any time point after infection. Infiltrating neutrophils seen by one day after infection had engulfed degraded stromal cells by 4 days after infection. CONCLUSIONS: By transmission electron microscopy, injected HAdV-D37 readily enters stromal cells in the C57Bl/6j mouse cornea and induces stromal inflammation, as was shown previously by light microscopy. However, electron microscopy also revealed dense, static arrays of intracytoplasmic virus, suggesting a block in viral capsid disassembly and viral DNA nuclear entry. These findings may explain why human adenoviruses do not replicate in the mouse corneal stroma.

Ursea R, De Castro D, Bowen TJ, Chan C-C. The role of conjunctival biopsy in the diagnosis of granulomatosis with polyangiitis. J Ophthalmic Inflamm Infect 2015;5(1):1.Abstract

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study is to describe a patient who was diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis based on conjunctival biopsy. This study is a case report and review of the literature. FINDINGS: A 48-year-old Caucasian woman presented with a 2-week history of a left eye peripheral corneal ulcer with adjacent conjunctivitis and a 4-month history of a non-resolving productive cough. Given her elevated serum perinuclear antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (P-ANCA) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) levels as well as a chest computed topography (CT) that showed bilateral patchy infiltrates, suspicion of limited granulomatosis with polyangiitis with lung and ocular involvement was high. Because bronchoalveolar lavage was nondiagnostic for granulomatous disease, conjunctival biopsy was initially attempted in order to avoid a more invasive lung biopsy. The conjunctival biopsy revealed mixed subacute inflammatory mediators and vasculitis consistent with granulomatosis with polyangiitis. CONCLUSIONS: Conjunctival biopsy may be a valuable, minimally invasive method for diagnosing systemic granulomatosis with polyangiitis.

Dedania VS, Grob S, Zhang K, Bakri SJ. Pharmacogenomics of response to anti-VEGF therapy in exudative age-related macular degeneration. Retina 2015;35(3):381-91.Abstract

PURPOSE: To determine whether there is an association between response to intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents and genotype in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. METHODS: Analysis of the current literature evaluating pharmacogenetics of treatment response in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration. RESULTS: Studies have demonstrated associations between various genotypes and response to intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents. Lower-risk genotypes of the CFH, ARMS2, HTRA1, and VEGF-A genes may be associated with improved visual outcomes. Additionally, frequency of injections may be associated with certain genotypes. CONCLUSION: Genetic background may influence an individual's response to treatment of neovascular age-related macular degeneration. Further studies to investigate biologic pathways of neovascular age-related macular degeneration and gene products that are directly involved might lead to better understanding of contribution of various genes to treatment response.

Menon BB, Kaiser-Marko C, Spurr-Michaud S, Tisdale AS, Gipson IK. Suppression of Toll-like receptor-mediated innate immune responses at the ocular surface by the membrane-associated mucins MUC1 and MUC16. Mucosal Immunol 2015;8(5):1000-8.Abstract

Membrane-associated mucins (MAMs) expressed on the ocular surface epithelium form a dense glycocalyx that is hypothesized to protect the cornea and conjunctiva from external insult. In this study, the hypothesis that the MAMs MUC1 and MUC16, expressed on the apical surface of the corneal epithelium, suppress Toll-like receptor (TLR)-mediated innate immune responses was tested. Using an in vitro model of corneal epithelial cells that are cultured to express MAMs, we show that reduced expression of either MUC1 or MUC16 correlates with increased message and secreted protein levels of the proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) following exposure of cells to the TLR2 and TLR5 agonists, heat-killed Listeria monocytogenes and flagellin, respectively. As mice express Muc1 (but not Muc16) in the corneal epithelium, a Muc1(-/-) mouse model was used to extend in vitro findings. Indeed, IL-6 and TNF-α message levels were increased in the corneal epithelium of Muc1(-/-) mice, in comparison with wild-type mice, following exposure of enucleated eyes to the TLR2 and TLR5 agonists. Our results suggest that the MAMs MUC1 and MUC16 contribute to the maintenance of immune homeostasis at the ocular surface by limiting TLR-mediated innate immune responses.

van Essen TH, Roelen DL, Williams KA, Jager MJ. Matching for Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA) in corneal transplantation - To do or not to do. Prog Retin Eye Res 2015;46:84-110.Abstract

As many patients with severe corneal disease are not even considered as candidates for a human graft due to their high risk of rejection, it is essential to find ways to reduce the chance of rejection. One of the options is proper matching of the cornea donor and recipient for the Human Leukocyte Antigens (HLA), a subject of much debate. Currently, patients receiving their first corneal allograft are hardly ever matched for HLA and even patients undergoing a regraft usually do not receive an HLA-matched graft. While anterior and posterior lamellar grafts are not immune to rejection, they are usually performed in low risk, non-vascularized cases. These are the cases in which the immune privilege due to the avascular status and active immune inhibition is still intact. Once broken due to infection, sensitization or trauma, rejection will occur. There is enough data to show that when proper DNA-based typing techniques are being used, even low risk perforating corneal transplantations benefit from matching for HLA Class I, and high risk cases from HLA Class I and probably Class II matching. Combining HLA class I and class II matching, or using the HLAMatchmaker could further improve the effect of HLA matching. However, new techniques could be applied to reduce the chance of rejection. Options are the local or systemic use of biologics, or gene therapy, aiming at preventing or suppressing immune responses. The goal of all these approaches should be to prevent a first rejection, as secondary grafts are usually at higher risk of complications including rejections than first grafts.

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