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E P Kay, M E Nimni, R E Smith; Stability of collagen phenotype in morphologically modulated rabbit corneal endothelial cells.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1984;25(5):495-501.
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Primary monolayer cultures of rabbit corneal endothelial cells maintained characteristic polygonal morphology and synthesized type IV collagen as a major collagenous peptide. Upon serial passage, [3H]-proline incorporation into proteins gradually decreased from the secondary subculture to a low of 71% of that in the primary culture in the fourth subculture, while type IV collagen synthesis significantly decreased from the tertiary subculture, and the fourth subculture retained only 22% of the primary culture value. When collagen molecules synthesized by the fourth subculture progeny were analyzed by SDS electrophoresis, no alteration was noted. The fourth subculture progeny continued to synthesize the characteristic type IV collagen, which migrates slightly faster than the beta 12 (I) band on SDS electrophoresis. However, the cellular morphology was changed dramatically from the characteristic polygonal shape to enlarged cells in the fourth subculture and mitotic activity was no longer apparent. Immunofluorescence studies showed that the enlarged fourth subculture progeny stained with anti-IV collagen antibodies, as did the primary polygonal endothelial cells. These findings confirmed type IV collagen synthesis in the enlarged endothelial cells. In addition, the morphologically altered cells continuously deposited Descemet's membrane-like extracellular matrices between the basal cell layer and the plastic substratum. These results suggest that endothelial cells lose their proliferative capacity as they age, but compensate for the loss of cell numbers by enlargement while maintaining a normal collagen phenotype.
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