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Julia M. Weller, Matthias Zenkel, Ursula Schlötzer-Schrehardt, Bjoern O. Bachmann, Theofilos Tourtas, Friedrich E. Kruse; Extracellular Matrix Alterations in Late-Onset Fuchs' Corneal Dystrophy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2014;55(6):3700-3708. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-14154.
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To characterize the alterations of extracellular matrix proteins in Descemet's membranes (DM) of patients with late-onset Fuchs' corneal dystrophy (FCD) and to differentiate them from nonspecific alterations in pseudophakic bullous keratopathy (PBK).
Human DM–endothelial cell complexes were obtained from patients with late-onset FCD (n = 40), PBK (n = 6), and control eyes (n = 5). Gene expression profiles of endothelial cells were compared using a commercial real-time PCR array and quantitative real-time PCR assays for confirmation of differentially expressed genes. A total of 24 extracellular matrix proteins were also localized in cryosections of corneal specimens from FCD (n = 10), PBK (n = 4), and control eyes (n = 5) by immunohistochemistry.
Polymerase chain reaction array analysis revealed a significant upregulation of 27 out of 84 extracellular matrix–related genes including collagens, proteoglycans, glycoproteins, cell adhesion molecules, and matrix metalloproteinases in FCD specimens as compared to normal controls, which could be partly confirmed and quantified by real-time PCR. Comparative analysis of FCD and PBK specimens showed a significant and consistent FCD-specific upregulation of collagen types I, III, and XVI; fibronectin; agrin; clusterin; transforming growth factor beta-induced (TGFBI); and integrin α4 (3- to 18-fold, P < 0.05). Immunohistochemistry revealed an increased labeling of collagen (types III, VII, XV, XVI), agrin, fibulin-2, TGFBI, versican, and clusterin in the DM of FCD specimens compared to PBK specimens.
The findings provide evidence for a specific upregulation, production, and deposition of collagen types III and XVI, agrin, TGFBI, and clusterin in late-onset FCD and thus point to the importance of matrix alterations in the pathophysiology of FCD.
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