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Charles Q. Yu, Min Zhang, Krisztina I. Matis, Charles Kim, Mark I. Rosenblatt; Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Mediates Corneal Nerve Repair. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(9):3870-3878. doi: 10.1167/iovs.07-1418.
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purpose. To examine the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptors in the cornea and the trigeminal ganglion and to characterize the role of VEGF in mediating corneal nerve repair.
methods. Regeneration of the corneal subbasal nerve plexus after epithelial debridement was measured. The expression of VEGF and its receptors was examined in the trigeminal ganglia and in the cornea by RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and Western blotting. VEGF-mediated nerve growth was measured in a trigeminal ganglia explant assay. Anti–VEGF neutralizing antibody was used to examine the VEGF-dependent growth of neurons in vitro and regeneration of the corneal nerves in vivo.
results. After two distinct patterns of nerve regeneration, the subbasal nerves recovered to 65% of the preinjury density after 28 days. RT-PCR demonstrated gene expression of VEGF and VEGF receptors in the trigeminal ganglia. Immunohistochemistry showed staining for VEGF and its receptors in the trigeminal ganglia and for VEGFR1, VEGFR2, and neuropilin (NRP)-1 in the cornea. Western blot confirmed these results. In vitro, VEGF promoted the growth of explanted trigeminal ganglia by 91%. Blockage of VEGF signaling with anti–VEGF antibody reduced the growth of cultured neurons by 17% and the regeneration of subbasal neurons by 23%.
conclusions. In addition to providing new information on the regeneration of murine corneal nerves, this study presents evidence that VEGF signaling influences the repair of corneal nerves by demonstrating that VEGF and VEGF receptors are present in the trigeminal ganglia and that abrogation of VEGF signaling reduces nerve growth in vitro and in vivo.
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