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Vincent M. Borderie, Marielle Baudrimont, Annick Vallée, Thierry L. Ereau, Françoise Gray, Laurent Laroche; Corneal Endothelial Cell Apoptosis in Patients with Fuchs’ Dystrophy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2000;41(9):2501-2505.
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purpose. To investigate whether apoptosis plays a notable role in degeneration
of corneal endothelial cells in patients with Fuchs’ dystrophy.
methods. Forty-seven corneal buttons from 41 patients with Fuchs’ dystrophy
were studied. Nucleus labeling, transmission electron microscopy (TEM),
and TdT-dUTP terminal nick-end labeling (TUNEL) were used to detect
apoptosis. TEM and TUNEL were performed on sections of all 47 corneal
buttons, and nucleus labeling was performed on the last 10 corneas.
Seven human donor corneas, two corneal buttons from two patients with
keratoconus, and one corneal button from a patient with interstitial
keratitis were used as negative controls for detection of apoptotic
endothelial cells. Negative controls were studied by means of nucleus
labeling, TUNEL, and TEM.
results. In the nucleus labeling assay, the average percentage of apoptotic
endothelial cells was 2.65% in the Fuchs’ dystrophy group
(n = 10) and 0.23% in the control group
(n = 10; P = 0.0003). In the TUNEL
assay, labeling of some endothelial cells was observed on 42 of 47
corneas in the Fuchs’ dystrophy group, whereas it was absent on most
specimens of the control group. In TEM, most endothelial cell nuclei
had a normal appearance, and apoptotic endothelial cells featuring
condensed nucleus and decreased cell size could be observed
exceptionally. Some apoptotic cells were found in the basal epithelial
cell layer by means of nucleus labeling, TUNEL, and TEM in the Fuchs’
dystrophy group but not in the control group.
conclusions. This study suggests that apoptosis plays an important role in
endothelial cell degeneration in Fuchs’ dystrophy. Because of a lack
of conclusive evidence of increased endothelial apoptosis by TEM,
further studies are needed to ascertain this
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