Mucins are a group of highly glycosylated glycoproteins responsible for the protection of wet-surfaced epithelia. Recent data indicate that transmembrane mucins differ in their contribution to the protective function of the ocular surface, with MUC16 being the most effective barrier on the apical surface glycocalyx. Here, we investigated the role of the mucoprotective drug rebamipide in the regulation of transmembrane mucin biosynthesis using stratified cultures of human corneal and conjunctival epithelial cells. We find that the addition of rebamipide to corneal, but not conjunctival, epithelial cells increased MUC16 protein biosynthesis. Rebamipide did not affect the levels of MUC1, 4 and 20 compared to control. In these experiments, rebamipide had no effect on the expression levels of Notch intracellular domains, suggesting that the rebamipide-induced increase in MUC16 biosynthesis in differentiated corneal cultures is not regulated by Notch signaling. Overall these findings indicate that rebamipide induces the differential upregulation of MUC16 in stratified cultures of human corneal epithelial cells, which may have implications to the proper restoration of barrier function in ocular surface disease.
Human corneal endothelial cells are derived from neural crest and because of postmitotic arrest lack competence to repair cell loss from trauma, aging, and degenerative disorders such as Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD). Herein, we identified a rapidly proliferating subpopulation of cells from the corneal endothelium of adult normal and FECD donors that exhibited features of neural crest-derived progenitor (NCDP) cells by showing absence of senescence with passaging, propensity to form spheres, and increased colony forming efficacy compared with the primary cells. The collective expression of stem cell-related genes SOX2, OCT4, LGR5, TP63 (p63), as well as neural crest marker genes PSIP1 (p75(NTR)), PAX3, SOX9, AP2B1 (AP-2β), and NES, generated a phenotypic footprint of endothelial NCDPs. NCDPs displayed multipotency by differentiating into microtubule-associated protein 2, β-III tubulin, and glial fibrillary acidic protein positive neurons and into p75(NTR)-positive human corneal endothelial cells that exhibited transendothelial resistance of functional endothelium. In conclusion, we found that mitotically incompetent ocular tissue cells contain adult NCDPs that exhibit a profile of transcription factors regulating multipotency and neural crest progenitor characteristics. Identification of normal NCDPs in FECD-affected endothelium holds promise for potential autologous cell therapies.
Limbal stem cell deficiency is predominantly caused by severe eye burns resulting in a decreased or a complete ablation of the regenerative potential of these stem cells. The inability to reconstruct the corneal epithelium further leads conjunctivalization of the gimbal-epithelial barrier. These abnormalities collectively result in the progressive opacification of the cornea responsible for blindness that is driven by chronic corneal ulceration and neovascularization. The underlying pathology of the cornea affects the homeostasis of the neighboring conjunctiva, eyelids, and tear film. Therefore, the ocular reconstruction to treat limbal stem cell deficiency is quite prolonged and involves a continued treatment plan. The management of limbal stem cell deficiency has undergone a multitude of changes over the past several decades. The understanding of limbal anatomy and physiology, as well as therapeutic advances in the stem cell field have propelled the development of new treatments offering new hope to severely disabled patients. Cultivated limbal epithelial and oral mucosal epithelial transplantations are therefore viable alternatives that could be utilized for the treatment of limbal stem cell deficiency.
Goblet cells within the conjunctival epithelium are specialized cells that secrete mucins onto the surface of the eye. Recent research has demonstrated new characteristics of the cells, including factors influencing their differentiation, their gene products and their functions at the ocular surface. The following review summarizes the newly discovered aspects of the role of Spdef, a member of the Ets transcription factor family in conjunctival goblet cell differentiation, the newly discovered goblet cell products including claudin2, the Wnt inhibitor Frzb, and the transmembrane mucin Muc16. The current concepts of conjunctival goblet cell function, including debris removal and immune surveillance are reviewed, as are changes in the goblet cell population in ocular surface diseases. Major remaining questions regarding conjunctival cell biology are discussed.
In a fibroblast colony model of corneal stromal development, we asked how physiological tension influences the patterning dynamics of fibroblasts and the orientation of deposited extracellular matrix (ECM). Using long-term live-cell microscopy, enabled by an optically accessible mechanobioreactor, a primary human corneal fibroblast colony was cultured on three types of substrates: a mechanically biased, loaded, dense, disorganized collagen substrate (LDDCS), a glass coverslip, and an unloaded, dense, disorganized collagen substrate (UDDCS). On LDDCS, fibroblast orientation and migration along a preferred angle developed early, cell orientation was correlated over long distances, and the colony pattern was stable. On glass, fibroblast orientation was poorly correlated, developed more slowly, and colony patterns were metastable. On UDDCS, cell orientation was correlated over shorter distances compared with LDDCS specimens. On all substrates, the ECM pattern reflected the cell pattern. In summary, mechanically biasing the collagen substrate altered the early migration behavior of individual cells, leading to stable emergent cell patterning, which set the template for newly synthesized ECM.
Dendritic cells (DCs) are antigen-presenting cells that normally play a critical role in stimulating T-cell-dependent immune responses. However, tolerogenic DCs (CD11cMHC-IICD80CD86) induce immune tolerance by stimulating regulatory T cells (Tregs: CD4CD25Foxp3). Although tolerogenic DCs are used to treat autoimmune diseases and to prevent transplantation rejection, the mechanisms by which they regulate alloimmunity are poorly understood. Here, we review our previous studies aiming to elucidate the mechanisms involved in immune rejection of corneal allografts using a corneal transplant model. We found that donor-derived tolerogenic DCs significantly prolonged corneal allograft survival by suppressing indirect allosensitization. We also reported the precise distribution of intraepithelial corneal DCs, termed Langerhans cells (LCs: CD11cLangerinMHC-II) in the cornea, which we maintain play a critical role in regulating corneal immunity. By confocal microscopy, we constructed 3-dimensional images of corneal LCs, which demonstrated that their cell bodies are present in the basal cell layer of the corneal epithelium. Furthermore, LC dendrites extend toward the ocular surface, but do not connect to epithelial tight junctions, indicating that they cannot directly interact with ocular surface antigens. We confirm the potential of DC therapy for corneal graft rejection and report the function of intraepithelial DCs (LCs) in the normal cornea.
Accumulating evidence shows that IL-17 is critically involved in diverse autoimmune diseases. However, its effect on the induction and progression of the humoral immune response is not fully understood. Using a preclinical model of IL-17-mediated dry eye disease, we demonstrate that upon encountering both the BCR and a secondary T cell signal, IL-17 can enhance B cell proliferation and germinal center formation in dry eye disease mice, suggesting that a stable Ag-dependent T-B cell interaction is required. Additionally, IL-17 also promotes the differentiation of B cells into isotype-switched B cells and plasma cells. Furthermore, we show that Th17 cells are more effective than Th1 cells to provide B cell help. Reduced B cell response correlates with significant reduction in clinical disease after in vivo IL-17A neutralization. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate a new role of IL-17 in promoting autoimmunity in part through directly enhancing B cell proliferation, differentiation, and plasma cell generation.
: In humans, the lacrimal gland (LG) is the primary contributor to the aqueous layer of the tear film. Production of tears in insufficient quantity or of inadequate quality may lead to aqueous-deficiency dry eye (ADDE). Currently there is no cure for ADDE. The development of strategies to reliably isolate LG stem/progenitor cells from the LG tissue brings great promise for the design of cell replacement therapies for patients with ADDE. We analyzed the therapeutic potential of epithelial progenitor cells (EPCPs) isolated from adult wild-type mouse LGs by transplanting them into the LGs of TSP-1(-/-) mice, which represent a novel mouse model for ADDE. TSP-1(-/-) mice are normal at birth but progressively develop a chronic form of ocular surface disease, characterized by deterioration, inflammation, and secretory dysfunction of the lacrimal gland. Our study shows that, among c-kit-positive epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM(+)) populations sorted from mouse LGs, the c-kit(+)dim/EpCAM(+)/Sca1(-)/CD34(-)/CD45(-) cells have the hallmarks of an epithelial cell progenitor population. Isolated EPCPs express pluripotency factors and markers of the epithelial cell lineage Runx1 and EpCAM, and they form acini and ducts when grown in reaggregated three-dimensional cultures. Moreover, when transplanted into injured or "diseased" LGs, they engraft into acinar and ductal compartments. EPCP-injected TSP-1(-/-) LGs showed reduction of cell infiltration, differentiation of the donor EPCPs within secretory acini, and substantial improvement in LG structural integrity and function. This study provides the first evidence for the effective use of adult EPCP cell transplantation to rescue LG dysfunction in a model system. SIGNIFICANCE: In humans, the lacrimal gland is the primary contributor to the aqueous layer of the tear film. Damage or inflammation of the lacrimal gland may lead to severe aqueous-deficiency dry eye and corneal disease. Endogenous lacrimal gland epithelial cell progenitors (EPCPs) injected into the gland of mouse model of human Sjögren's syndrome TSP-1(-/-) mice resulted in long-term engraftment and markedly improved structure and function of "diseased" lacrimal gland. This study demonstrates, for the first time, that EPCPs can mediate functional recovery of the lacrimal gland in a Sjögren's syndrome mouse model. These data establish proof of concept that endogenous stem/progenitor cell transplantation may be used to treat human lacrimal gland chronic inflammation.
PURPOSE: Keratoconus (KC) is a corneal ectasia whose pathophysiology is still mostly unknown. We investigated whether thyroid gland dysfunction (TGD) is associated with the development of KC. METHODS: We first conducted an epidemiological study, examining the prevalence of TGD among patients with KC. Then, we compared tear thyroxine (T4) in TGD and immunohistochemical staining of its receptors (T4Rs) between patients with KC and controls. The significance of T4 for corneal metabolism was studied in organotypic tissue cultures from monkey corneas. RESULTS: We found that TGD prevalence among patients with KC is 13.6%, which is higher than its prevalence in the general population (about 2%). Tear T4 was higher in KC, and keratocyte T4Rs were elevated in KC compared with controls. Furthermore, core proteins such as collagen and cytokeratins were equally altered both in KC and in the cultured corneas substituted with T4. CONCLUSIONS: Our data implicate a crucial role of T4 in KC pathophysiology, which is most likely mediated by T4Rs.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent advances and outcomes data in the management of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS/TEN) demonstrate the need for a universal standard of care for patients admitted with the disease. RECENT FINDINGS: Amniotic membrane transplantation, aggressive topical corticosteroids, and lubrication in the acute stage are necessary to prevent or mitigate long-term ocular sequelae. If chronic ocular disease does occur, several interventions can be employed to prevent progressive vision loss and discomfort. The earliest interventions are the ones most likely to prevent chronic complications. SUMMARY: The literature overwhelmingly describes acute intervention for ocular involvement in SJS/TEN as improving long-term outcomes. All patients admitted for SJS/TEN or suspicion of SJS/TEN should be evaluated and then closely followed by ophthalmologists. As the disease progresses, the interventions needed for visual rehabilitation become more invasive and higher risk.
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.
PURPOSE: Although it has been known that patients' perspectives on their disease can significantly affect their level of functional disability as well as disease outcome, limited data are available on patients' perceptions of their dry eye disease (DED). The aim of this questionnaire-based study was to evaluate patients' perspectives on their DED. METHODS: This cross-sectional study included 91 patients with DED. In addition to clinical evaluation, all patients completed a questionnaire to evaluate their perspectives on their DED. This included their satisfaction with understanding DED, their opinion on the easiness of following doctors' advice, their opinion on the effectiveness of the treatment, their satisfaction with the eye care, and their general outlook on DED. RESULTS: This study included 75 (82%) women and 16 men (18%) with a mean age of 57 ± 14 years who had been treated for DED for 5.2 ± 5.4 years. 93% of the patients were satisfied with their understanding of DED, and 76% found it easy to follow their doctors' advice for DED management. Furthermore, 95% thought that the DED treatment had been helpful and 95% were satisfied with their eye care for DED. Forty-eight percent expressed optimism regarding the long-term prospects of their DED. CONCLUSIONS: Although the majority of DED patients have positive perspectives on their disease, close to half report a lack of optimism regarding the long-term outlook for their condition.
PURPOSE: To investigate the tear levels of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), myeloperoxidase (MPO), and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 in eyes after Boston keratoprosthesis type I (B-KPro) implantation and to correlate these markers with the established B-KPro prognostic categories. METHODS: Tear washes were collected from 40 patients (7 with autoimmune disease, 2 with chemical burn, and 31 with other noncicatrizing diagnoses). Tear levels of MMPs, MPO, and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase-1 were quantified using multianalyte bead-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. The total MMP activity was determined using a fluorimetric assay. The analytes were compared to the underlying diagnosis and other clinical factors. RESULTS: The MMP-8, MMP-9, and MPO levels were markedly elevated in the eyes with B-KPro (80 ± 31, 291 ± 77, and 244 ± 33 pg/μg, respectively). Chemical burn was associated with significantly higher tear MMP-8 (474 ± 376 pg/μg) and MMP-9 levels (1300 ± 635 pg/μg) compared with noncicatrizing diseases (MMP-8: 41 ± 15 pg/μg, P = 0.02 and MMP-9: 196 ± 57 pg/μg, P = 0.02) and higher MMP-9 levels compared with autoimmune diseases (MMP-8: 96 ± 65 pg/μg, P = 0.21 and MMP-9: 306 ± 196 pg/μg, P = 0.04). Similar analyte levels were observed in the B-KPro eye and the contralateral non-B-KPro eye of patients with bilateral diseases. MMP-8, MMP-9, and total MMP activities correlated strongly with each other. CONCLUSIONS: In the eyes with B-KPro, tear MMP-8 and MMP-9 levels seem to be related to the underlying ocular surface pathology and not significantly influenced by the presence of the prosthesis.
PURPOSE: Describe the presentation and management of superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis (SLK)-like inflammation and secondary limbal stem cell dysfunction in the setting of ocular chronic graft-versus-host disease (cGVHD). METHODS: Retrospective observational case series in a multicenter clinical practice. Participants were 13 patients (26 eyes) with ocular cGVHD and SLK-like inflammation presenting to the University of Illinois at Chicago and BostonSight® between January 1, 2009 and July 1, 2013. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: 1) Reversal or worsening of SLK, and 2) development of limbal stem cell dysfunction. RESULTS: All eyes showed evidence of SLK-like inflammation and superior limbal stem cell dysfunction manifested by conjunctival injection and superior conjunctival and corneal staining. In addition to aggressive lubrication, management strategies for SLK included topical steroids (20/26), punctal occlusion (18/26), topical cyclosporine (24/26), autologous serum tears (12/26), therapeutic soft contact lens (13/26 eyes) and scleral lenses (4/26 eyes). SLK and limbal stem cell dysfunction were reversed in 23/26 eyes. Three eyes of two patients with long-standing disease demonstrated frank limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) and corneal pannus, with one patient requiring multiple reconstructive surgical procedures. CONCLUSIONS: SLK-like inflammation is an under-recognized condition in patients with severe dry eyes secondary to ocular cGVHD. Untreated SLK can potentially lead to permanent LSCD over time. Early recognition and management of SLK in ocular cGVHD can improve vision, reverse signs, and may prevent these long-term consequences.
PURPOSE: Purinergic receptors play a key role in the function of the lacrimal gland (LG) as P1 purinergic receptors A1, A2A, and A2B, P2X1-7 receptors, and many of the P2Y receptors are expressed. METHODS: This review examines the current knowledge of purinergic receptors in the LG as well as the signaling pathways activated by these receptors. RESULTS: These receptors are expressed on the acinar, ductal, and myoepithelial cells. Considerable crosstalk exists between the pathways activated by P2X7 receptors with those activated by M3 muscarinic or α1D adrenergic receptors. The mechanism of the crosstalk between P2X7 and M3 muscarinic receptors differs from that of the crosstalk between P2X7 and α1D adrenergic receptors. CONCLUSIONS: Understanding purinergic receptors and how they modulate protein secretion could play a key role in normal and pathological responses of the LG.