Li D, Hodges RR, Jiao J, Carozza RB, Shatos MA, Chiang N, Serhan CN, Dartt DA. Resolvin D1 and aspirin-triggered resolvin D1 regulate histamine-stimulated conjunctival goblet cell secretion. Mucosal Immunol 2013;6(6):1119-30.Abstract
Resolution of inflammation is an active process mediated by pro-resolution lipid mediators. As resolvin (Rv) D1 is produced in the cornea, pro-resolution mediators could be effective in regulating inflammatory responses to histamine in allergic conjunctivitis. Two key mediators of resolution are the D-series resolvins RvD1 or aspirin-triggered RvD1 (AT-RvD1). We used cultured conjunctival goblet cells to determine whether histamine actions can be terminated during allergic responses. We found cross-talk between two types of G protein-coupled receptors (GPRs), as RvD1 interacts with its receptor GPR32 to block histamine-stimulated H1 receptor increases in intracellular [Ca(2+)] ([Ca(2+)]i) preventing H1 receptor-mediated responses. In human and rat conjunctival goblet cells, RvD1 and AT-RvD1 each block histamine-stimulated secretion by preventing its increase in [Ca(2+)]i and activation of extracellular regulated-protein kinase (ERK)1/2. We suggest that D-series resolvins regulate histamine responses in the eye and offer new treatment approaches for allergic conjunctivitis or other histamine-dependent pathologies.
Greiner JV. Long-term (12-month) improvement in meibomian gland function and reduced dry eye symptoms with a single thermal pulsation treatment. Clin Exp Ophthalmol 2013;41(6):524-30.Abstract
PURPOSE: To determine the 1-year post-treatment dry eye status of subjects with meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye symptoms after receiving a single LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System treatment. DESIGN: Single-centre, prospective, observational, open-label, 1-month-registered clinical trial with a 1-year follow-up examination. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with evaporative dry eye disease with meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye symptoms who had participated in the registered 1-month clinical trial. METHODS: Eighteen of 30 subjects initially enrolled were able to return for a 1-year follow-up. Both eyes of all patients were treated with a single 12-min treatment using the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System. Meibomian gland function, tear break-up time and dry eye symptoms were measured. Data are presented for pretreatment (baseline), and 1-month and 1-year post-treatment. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Meibomian gland secretion scores, and tear break-up time and dry eye symptoms. RESULTS: Significant improvement in meibomian gland secretion scores from baseline measurements (4.0 ± 3.4) to 1-month post-treatment (11.3 ± 4.7; P < 0.0005) was maintained at 1-year (7.3 ± 4.6; P < 0.05). Baseline tear break-up time (4.9 ± 3.0) was significantly increased at 1-month (9.5 ± 6.9; P < 0.05); however, this improvement was no longer evident at 1-year post-treatment (6.0 ± 4.4). The significant improvement in symptom scores on Ocular Surface Disease Index and Standard Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness questionnaires observed at 1-month (P < 0.0005) was maintained at 1-year (Ocular Surface Disease Index [P < 0.05]; Standard Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness [P < 0.0005]). CONCLUSION: A single 12-min treatment with the Lipi Flow Thermal Pulsation System offers an effective treatment for evaporative dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction resulting in significant and sustained improvement in signs and symptoms for up to 1 year.
Li D, Jiao J, Shatos MA, Hodges RR, Dartt DA. Effect of VIP on intracellular [Ca2+], extracellular regulated kinase 1/2, and secretion in cultured rat conjunctival goblet cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2013;54(4):2872-84.Abstract
PURPOSE: To determine the intracellular signaling pathways that vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) uses to stimulate high molecular weight glycoconjugate secretion from cultured rat conjunctival goblet cells. METHODS: Goblet cells from rat bulbar and forniceal conjunctiva were grown in organ culture. Presence and localization of VIP receptors (VPAC1 and 2) were determined by RT-PCR, immunofluorescence microscopy and Western blot analysis. Intracellular [Ca(2+)] ([Ca(2+)]i) was measured using fura-2. Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-1/2 activity was determined by Western blot analysis. High molecular weight glycoconjugate secretion was measured with an enzyme-linked lectin assay on cultured goblet cells that were serum-starved for 2 hours before stimulation with VIP, VPAC1-, or VPAC2-specific agonists. Inhibitors were added 30 minutes prior to VIP. Activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) was measured by immunoprecipitation using an antibody against pTyr followed by Western blot analysis with an antibody against EGFR. RESULTS: Both VIP receptors were present in rat conjunctiva and cultured goblet cells. VIP- and VPAC-specific agonists increased [Ca(2+)]i and secretion in a concentration-dependent manner. VIP also increased ERK1/2 activity, VIP-stimulated increase in [Ca(2+)]i. Secretion, but not ERK1/2 activity, was inhibited by the protein kinase A inhibitor, H89. VIP-stimulated secretion was inhibited by siRNA for ERK2 but not by siRNA for EGFR. VIP did not increase the phosphorylation of the EGFR. CONCLUSIONS: In conclusion, in cultured rat conjunctival goblet cells, VPAC1 and 2 receptors are functional. VIP stimulates a cAMP-dependent increase in [Ca(2+)]i and glycoconjugate secretion, but not ERK1/2 activation. VIP does not activate with EGFR.
Hodges RR, Dartt DA. Tear film mucins: front line defenders of the ocular surface; comparison with airway and gastrointestinal tract mucins. Exp Eye Res 2013;117:62-78.Abstract
The ocular surface including the cornea and conjunctiva and its overlying tear film are the first tissues of the eye to interact with the external environment. The tear film is complex containing multiple layers secreted by different glands and tissues. Each layer contains specific molecules and proteins that not only maintain the health of the cells on the ocular surface by providing nourishment and removal of waste products but also protect these cells from environment. A major protective mechanism that the corneal and conjunctival cells have developed is secretion of the innermost layer of the tear film, the mucous layer. Both the cornea and conjunctiva express membrane spanning mucins, whereas the conjunctiva also produces soluble mucins. The mucins present in the tear film serve to maintain the hydration of the ocular surface and to provide lubrication and anti-adhesive properties between the cells of the ocular surface and conjunctiva during the blink. A third function is to contribute to the epithelial barrier to prevent pathogens from binding to the ocular surface. This review will focus on the different types of mucins produced by the corneal and conjunctival epithelia. Also included in this review will be a presentation of the structure of mucins, regulation of mucin production, role of mucins in ocular surface diseases, and the differences in mucin production by the ocular surface, airways and gastrointestinal tract.
Mauris J, Mantelli F, Woodward AM, Cao Z, Bertozzi CR, Panjwani N, Godula K, Argüeso P. Modulation of ocular surface glycocalyx barrier function by a galectin-3 N-terminal deletion mutant and membrane-anchored synthetic glycopolymers. PLoS One 2013;8(8):e72304.Abstract
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.
Karamichos D, Rich CB, Zareian R, Hutcheon AEK, Ruberti JW, Trinkaus-Randall V, Zieske JD. TGF-β3 stimulates stromal matrix assembly by human corneal keratocyte-like cells. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2013;54(10):6612-9.Abstract
PURPOSE: We have previously shown that TGF-β3 (T3) stimulates extracellular matrix (ECM) assembly while maintaining antifibrotic characteristics in a model using human corneal fibroblasts (HCFs). This model, however, requires non-physiological levels of serum. In the current study, we tested whether T3 could stimulate human corneal keratocytes (HCKs) in vitro to assemble a functional ECM, while maintaining their characteristics. METHODS: Human corneal keratocytes and HCFs were isolated and cultured using 1% or 10% serum, respectively ±T3. The constructs were processed for indirect immunofluorescence (IF), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and qRT-PCR, analyzing for keratocyte marker, keratocan, and ECM components, collagen (col) types I, III, and V. RESULTS: Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR data showed that keratocan, col I, and V were all upregulated in HCKs compared with HCFs, whereas col III was expressed at low levels in HCKs. Transforming growth factor beta 3 stimulation further enhanced the level of change. Without T3, HCK constructs were very thin, approximately 5 μm; however, as with HCFs, upon stimulation with T3, HCK constructs increased in thickness by approximately 5-fold. Cell counts and ECM production revealed that HCKs assembled more ECM per unit area compared with HCFs, and IF revealed downregulation of fibrotic markers, col III, and thrombospondin-1, with T3 stimulation. Transmission electron microscopy data revealed aligned ECM with long fibrils for all conditions except HCK Controls. Human corneal keratocytes+T3 also showed denser collagen fibrils with more consistent fibril diameter. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the data suggests that it is possible to stimulate matrix secretion and assembly by HCKs in vitro by using a single growth factor, T3.
Gipson IK. Age-related changes and diseases of the ocular surface and cornea. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2013;54(14):ORSF48-53.Abstract
Aging of the ocular surface and corneal tissues, major components of the visual system, causes major eye disease and results in substantial cost in medical and social terms. These diseases include the highly prevalent dry eye disease that affects the ocular surface and its glands, leading to tear film alterations, discomfort, and decreased vision. Studies show that 14.4% of the population in the United States older than 50 years have dry eye disease and demonstrate that it is particularly prevalent among women. Annual medical costs per patient with dry eye in the United States are estimated at $783 per year, with an overall medical cost adjusted to prevalence of $3.84 billion per year. Societal costs, which include loss of productivity, are estimated per patient at $11,302 per year, with overall costs adjusted to prevalence of $55.4 billion per year. Because there are few effective treatments for the disease, more research on its etiology and mechanisms is warranted and needed. Increased public education about risk factors for the disease is also required. Another major age-related eye disease of the cornea that leads to vision impairment and potentially blindness if left untreated is Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy. This disease leads to loss of the endothelial cells on the internal side of the cornea that are responsible for keeping the cornea in the proper hydration state to ensure its transparency to light. The mechanism of cell loss is unknown, and the only treatment available to date is surgical transplantation of the cornea or inner part of the cornea. These medically costly procedures require donor corneas, eye banking, and medical follow-up, with accrued costs. Fuchs' endothelial corneal dystrophy is a major cause of corneal transplantation in the United States; therefore, research support is needed to determine the mechanism of this age-related disease, to develop medical, nonsurgical methods for treatment.
Alhatem A, Cavalcanti B, Hamrah P. In vivo confocal microscopy in dry eye disease and related conditions. Semin Ophthalmol 2012;27(5-6):138-48.Abstract
A new era of ocular imaging has recently begun with the advent of in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM), shedding more light on the pathophysiology, diagnosis, and potential treatment strategies for dry eye disease. IVCM is a noninvasive and powerful tool that allows detection of changes in ocular surface epithelium, immune and inflammatory cells, corneal nerves, keratocytes, and meibomian gland structures on a cellular level. Ocular surface structures in dry eye-related conditions have been assessed and alterations have been quantified using IVCM. IVCM may aid in the assessment of dry eye disease prognosis and treatment, as well as lead to improved understanding of the pathophysiological mechanisms in this complex disease. Further, due to visualization of subclinical findings, IVCM may allow detection of disease at much earlier stages and allow stratification of patients for clinical trials. Finally, by providing an objective methodology to monitor treatment efficacy, image-guided therapy may allow the possibility of tailoring treatment based on cellular changes, rather than on clinical changes alone.
Hodges RR, Bair JA, Carozza RB, Li D, Shatos MA, Dartt DA. Signaling pathways used by EGF to stimulate conjunctival goblet cell secretion. Exp Eye Res 2012;103:99-113.Abstract
The purpose of this study was to identify the signaling pathways that epidermal growth factor (EGF) uses to stimulate mucin secretion from cultured rat conjunctival goblet cells and to compare the pathways used by EGF with those used by the known secretagogue muscarinic, cholinergic agonists. To this end, goblet cells from rat conjunctiva were grown in culture using RPMI media. For immunofluorescence experiments, antibodies against EGF receptor (EGFR) and ERK 2 as well as muscarinic receptors (M(1)AchR, M(2)AchR, and M(3)AchR) were used, and the cells viewed by fluorescence microscopy. Intracellular [Ca(2+)] ([Ca(2+)](i)) was measured using fura 2/AM. Glycoconjugate secretion was determined after cultured goblet cells were preincubated with inhibitors, and then stimulated with EGF or the cholinergic agonist carbachol (Cch). Goblet cell secretion was measured using an enzyme-linked lectin assay with UEA-I or ELISA for MUC5AC. In cultured goblet cells EGF stimulated an increase in [Ca(2+)](i) in a concentration-dependent manner. EGF-stimulated increase in [Ca(2+)](i) was blocked by inhibitors of the EGF receptor and removal of extracellular Ca(2+). Inhibitors against the EGFR and ERK 1/2 blocked EGF-stimulated mucin secretion. In addition, cultured goblet cells expressed M(1)AchR, M(2)AchR, and M(3)AchRs. Cch-stimulated increase in [Ca(2+)](i) was blocked by inhibitors for the M(1)AchRs, matrix metalloproteinases, and EGF receptors. Inhibitors against the EGF receptor and ERK 1/2 also blocked Cch-stimulated mucin secretion. We conclude that in conjunctival goblet cells, EGF itself increases [Ca(2+)](i) and activates ERK 1/2 to stimulate mucin secretion. EGF-stimulated secretion is dependent on extracellular Ca(2+). This mechanism of action is similar to cholinergic agonists that use muscarinic receptors to transactivate the EGF receptor, increase [Ca(2+)](i), and activate ERK 1/2 leading to an increase in mucin secretion.
Cheng S-F, Dastjerdi MH, Ferrari G, Okanobo A, Bower KS, Ryan DS, Amparo F, Stevenson W, Hamrah P, Nallasamy N, Dana R. Short-term topical bevacizumab in the treatment of stable corneal neovascularization. Am J Ophthalmol 2012;154(6):940-948.e1.Abstract
PURPOSE: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of topical bevacizumab in the treatment of corneal neovascularization. DESIGN: Prospective, nonrandomized, interventional case series. METHODS: setting: Institutional, multicenter clinical trial. study population: Twenty eyes from 20 patients with stable corneal neovascularization. intervention procedures: Patients were treated with topical 1.0% bevacizumab for 3 weeks and were monitored for a total of 24 weeks. main outcome measures: Primary outcome measures included: neovascular area, defined as the area of the corneal vessels themselves; vessel caliber, defined as the mean corneal vessel diameter; and invasion area, defined as the fraction of the total cornea into which the vessels extended. The occurrence of ocular and systemic adverse events was monitored closely. RESULTS: As compared with the baseline visit, patients exhibited a statistically significant improvement in neovascular area by week 6 (P = .007) and in vessel caliber by week 12 (P = .006). At the final visit, neovascular area, vessel caliber, and invasion area were reduced by 47.5%, 36.2%, and 20%, respectively. The decreases in neovascular area and vessel caliber were statistically significant (P < .001 and P = .003, respectively); however, the reduction in invasion area did not reach statistical significance (P = .06). There were no significant changes in the secondary outcomes, and there were no adverse events. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term topical bevacizumab treatment reduced the extent of stable corneal neovascularization as measured by neovascular area and vessel caliber with no associated adverse events. Interestingly, the degree of treatment efficacy was inversely proportional to the baseline invasion area.
Keating A, Pineda R. Trichosporon asahii keratitis in a patient with a type I Boston keratoprosthesis and contact lens. Eye Contact Lens 2012;38(2):130-2.Abstract
PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to report a case of Trichosporon asahii in a patient with a type I Boston keratoprosthesis and contact lens with review of the literature. METHODS: A case report and literature review are provided. RESULTS: A 70-year-old monocular South Asian man with light perception vision and dense corneal scarring from previously failed amniotic membrane grafting and one failed corneal transplant was evaluated for a keratoprosthesis for visual rehabilitation. Three months after undergoing uneventful implantation of a type I Boston keratoprosthesis and placement of a therapeutic contact lens, he was found on routine follow-up to have a corneal infiltrate that was culture positive for T. asahii. The fungal keratitis was successfully treated with topical amphotericin B and oral ketoconazole. CONCLUSIONS: Contact lens wear is a known risk factor for fungal keratitis. Trichosporon is an uncommon agent of fungal keratitis. We report the first known case of fungal keratitis caused by T.asahii in a patient with a keratoprosthesis and contact lens.
Fostad IG, Eidet JR, Shatos MA, Utheim TP, Utheim OA, Raeder S, Dartt DA. Biopsy harvesting site and distance from the explant affect conjunctival epithelial phenotype ex vivo. Exp Eye Res 2012;104:15-25.Abstract
The purpose of the study was to investigate if the number of goblet cells expanded ex vivo from a conjunctival explant is affected by the biopsy harvesting site on the conjunctiva and the distance from the explant. Conjunctival explants from six regions: superior and inferior bulbus, fornix, and tarsus of male Sprague-Dawley rats were grown in RPMI 1640 with 10% fetal bovine serum on coverslips for eight days. Histochemical and immunofluorescent staining of goblet (CK-7/UEA-1/MUC5AC), stratified squamous, non-goblet (CK-4), proliferating (PCNA) and progenitor (ABCG2) cells were analyzed by epifluorescence and laser confocal microscopy. Outgrowth was measured with NIH ImageJ. For statistical analysis the Mann-Whitney test and Spearman's rank-order correlation test were used. Cultures from superior and inferior fornix contained the most goblet cells as indicated by the presence of CK-7+, UEA-1+ and MUC5AC+ cells. Superior and inferior forniceal cultures displayed 60.8% ± 9.2% and 64.7% ± 6.7% CK-7+ cells, respectively, compared to the superior tarsal (26.6% ± 8.4%; P < 0.05), superior bulbar (31.0% ± 4.0%; P < 0.05), inferior bulbar (38.5% ± 9.3%; P < 0.05) and inferior tarsal cultures (27.7% ± 8.3%; P < 0.05). While 28.4% ± 6.3% of CK-7+ goblet cells co-labeled with PCNA, only 7.4% ± 1.6% of UEA-1+ goblet cells did (P < 0.01). CK-7+ goblet cells were located at a lower concentration close to the explant (39.8% ± 3.1%) compared to near the leading edge (58.2% ± 4.5%; P < 0.05). Both markers for goblet cell secretory product (UEA-1 and MUC5AC), however, displayed the opposite pattern with a higher percentage of positive cells close to the explant than near the leading edge (P < 0.05). The percentage of CK-4+ cells was higher near the explant compared to near the leading edge (P < 0.01). The percentage of CK-7+ goblet cells in the cultures did not correlate with the outgrowth size (r(s) = -0.086; P = 0.435). The percentage of UEA-1+ goblet cells correlated negatively with outgrowth size (r(s) = -0.347; P < 0.01), whereas the percentage of CK-4+ cells correlated positively with the outgrowth size (r(s) = 0.473; P < 0.05). We conclude that forniceal explants yield the highest number of goblet cells ex vivo and thereby seem to be optimal for goblet cell transplantation. We also suggest that CK-7+/UEA-1- cells represent highly proliferative immature goblet cells. These cells could be important during conjunctival migration as they are mostly located close to the leading edge and their density does not decrease with increasing outgrowth size.
Hamrah P, Sahin A, Dastjerdi MH, Shahatit BM, Bayhan HA, Dana R, Pavan-Langston D. Cellular changes of the corneal epithelium and stroma in herpes simplex keratitis: an in vivo confocal microscopy study. Ophthalmology 2012;119(9):1791-7.Abstract
PURPOSE: To analyze the morphologic features of corneal epithelial cells and keratocytes by in vivo confocal microscopy in patients with herpes simplex keratitis (HSK) as associated with corneal innervation. DESIGN: Prospective, cross-sectional, controlled, single-center study. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-one eyes with the diagnosis HSK and their contralateral clinically unaffected eyes were studied and compared with normal controls (n = 15). METHODS: In vivo confocal microscopy (Confoscan 4; Nidek Technologies, Gamagori, Japan) and corneal esthesiometry (Cochet-Bonnet; Luneau Ophthalmologie, Chartres, France) of the central cornea were performed bilaterally in all patients and controls. Patients were grouped into normal (>5.5 cm), mild (>2.5-5.5 cm), and severe (<2.5 cm) loss of sensation. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Changes in morphologic features and density of the superficial and basal epithelial cells, as well as stromal keratocytes, were assessed by 2 masked observers. Changes were correlated to corneal sensation, number of nerves, and total length of nerves. RESULTS: There was a significant and gradual decrease in the density of superficial epithelial cells in HSK eyes, with 852.50 ± 24.4 cells/mm(2) in eyes with severe sensation loss and 2435.23 ± 224.3 cells/mm(2) in control eyes (P = 0.008). Superficial epithelial cell size was 2.5-fold larger in HSK eyes (835.3 μm(2)) compared with contralateral or normal eyes (407.4 μm(2); P = 0.003). A significant number of hyperreflective desquamating superficial epithelial cells were present in HSK eyes with normal (6.4%), mild (29.1%), and severe (52.2%) loss of sensation, but were absent in controls. The density of basal epithelial cells, anterior keratocytes, and posterior keratocytes did not show statistical significance between patients and controls. Changes in superficial epithelial cell density and morphologic features correlated strongly with total nerve length, number, and corneal sensation. Scans of contralateral eyes did not show any significant epithelial or stromal changes compared with controls. CONCLUSIONS: In vivo confocal microscopy reveals profound HSK-induced changes in the superficial epithelium, as demonstrated by increase in cell size, decrease in cell density, and squamous metaplasia. This study demonstrated that these changes correlate strongly with changes in corneal innervation.
Bitar MS, Liu C, Ziaei A, Chen Y, Schmedt T, Jurkunas UV. Decline in DJ-1 and decreased nuclear translocation of Nrf2 in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2012;53(9):5806-13.Abstract
PURPOSE: This study sought to determine factors involved in nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) regulation and their response to oxidative stress in Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) and normal corneal endothelial cells (CECs). METHODS: FECD corneal buttons were obtained from transplantations and normal human corneas from tissue banks. Oxidative stress was induced by tert-butyl hydroperoxide (tBHP). Protein and mRNA levels of Nrf2, DJ-1, p53, and Kelch-like ECH-associated protein1 (Keap1) were investigated using Western blotting and real-time PCR. Immunoprecipitation was used to detect levels of oxidized DJ-1 protein and Cullin 3- (Cul3)-regulated degradation of DJ-1 in immortalized FECD (FECDi) and normal CEC (HCECi) cell lines. Nrf2 subcellular localization was assessed by immunocytochemistry. RESULTS: Nrf2 protein stabilizer, DJ-1, decreased significantly in FECD CECs compared with normal, whereas Nrf2 protein repressor, Keap1, was unchanged at baseline but increased under oxidative stress. Under oxidative stress, normal CECs upregulated DJ-1 protein synthesis, whereas FECD CECs did not. DJ-1 decline correlated with increased DJ-1 oxidative modification and carbonylation in FECDi as compared with HCECi. Increased labeling of immunoprecipitated DJ-1 protein with anti-Cul3 antibody indicated enhanced DJ-1 degradation in FECDi as compared with HCECi. Following tBHP treatment, Nrf2 translocated from cytoplasm to nuclei in normal CECs, whereas Nrf2 nuclear localization was not observed in FECD. CONCLUSIONS: Decreased levels of DJ-1 in FECD at baseline and under oxidative stress correlate with impaired Nrf2 nuclear translocation and heightened cell susceptibility to apoptosis. Targeting the DJ-1/Nrf2 axis could yield a mechanism to slow CEC degeneration in FECD.