Subepithelial corneal fibrosis partially due to epithelial-mesenchymal transition of ocular surface epithelium

Motoko Kawashima, Tetsuya Kawakita, Kazunari Higa, Yoshiyuki Satake, Masahiro Omoto, Kazuo Tsubota, Shigeto Shimmura, Jun Shimazaki

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Abstract

Purpose: To determine whether epithelial-mesenchymal transition is involved in the development of corneal subepithelial fibrosis (pannus). Methods: Frozen samples of pannus tissue removed from human corneas with a diagnosis of total limbal stem cell deficiency were characterized by immunostaining for both epithelial and mesenchymal markers. We selected transformation-related protein 63 (p63) and pancytokeratin as epithelial markers and vimentin and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) as mesenchymal markers. Immunostaining for β-catenin and E-cadherin was performed to determine wingless- Int (Wnt)-pathway activation. RT-PCR analysis was also performed on epithelial tissue obtained from pannus samples after dispase digestion. Results: Immunohistochemistry revealed strong nuclear expression of p63 and weak intercellular expression of E-cadherin in epithelial basal cells of pannus tissue. Furthermore, translocation of β-catenin from intercellular junctions to the nucleus and cytoplasm was also observed. Double-positive cells for both p63 and α-SMA were observed in the subepithelial stroma of pannus tissue, which was supported by RT-PCR and cytospin analysis. Conclusions: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition may be partially involved in the development of subepithelial corneal fibrosis due to total limbal stem cell deficiency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2727-2732
Number of pages6
JournalMolecular vision
Volume16
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 1

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology

Cite this

Kawashima, M., Kawakita, T., Higa, K., Satake, Y., Omoto, M., Tsubota, K., Shimmura, S., & Shimazaki, J. (2010). Subepithelial corneal fibrosis partially due to epithelial-mesenchymal transition of ocular surface epithelium. Molecular vision, 16, 2727-2732.