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Jack Sheppard, Sally Hayes, Craig Boote, Marcela Votruba, Keith M. Meek; Changes in Corneal Collagen Architecture during Mouse Postnatal Development. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(6):2936-2942. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4612.
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To characterize changes in corneal collagen arrangement during mouse postnatal development.
Small-angle X-ray scatter patterns were gathered from the centers of 32 excised mice corneas aged between postnatal days 10 (before eye opening) and 28 (onset of sexual maturity). These were analyzed to produce measurements of the average separation distance between corneal collagen fibrils. Changes in the predominant orientation of corneal collagen and its relative distribution during the same developmental period were determined using wide-angle X-ray scatter data collected at 0.2-mm intervals over the entire cornea and limbal region of each specimen.
Collagen interfibrillar spacing decreased in the days leading up to eye opening (61.3 ± 2.9 nm at day 10 to 45.5 ± 4.5 nm at day 14), after which it remained constant. However, changes in collagen orientation and distribution occurred throughout the entire developmental period. After eye opening at day 12, collagen alignment gradually increased in the peripheral cornea and limbus. By day 28, an annulus of highly aligned collagen surrounded the cornea.
Changes in corneal thickness before and after eye opening are not caused by widespread alterations in the collagen fibrillar array but are more likely caused by expansion and contraction of regions devoid of regularly arranged collagen. The postnatal development of a corneal annulus of collagen, thought to play a role in stabilizing the curvature of the cornea, may be triggered by visual factors.
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