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Jiucheng He, Haydee E. P. Bazan; Neuroanatomy and Neurochemistry of Mouse Cornea. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(2):664-674. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-18019.
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To investigate the entire nerve architecture and content of the two main sensory neuropeptides in mouse cornea to determine if it is a good model with similarities to human corneal innervation.
Mice aged 1 to 24 weeks were used. The corneas were stained with neuronal-class βIII-tubulin, calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP), and substance P (SP) antibodies; whole-mount images were acquired to build an entire view of corneal innervation. To test the origin of CGRP and SP, trigeminal ganglia (TG) were processed for immunofluorescence. Relative corneal nerve fiber densities or neuron numbers were assessed by computer-assisted analysis.
Between 1 and 3 weeks after birth, mouse cornea was mainly composed of a stromal nerve network. At 4 weeks, a whorl-like structure (or vortex) appeared that gradually became more defined. By 8 weeks, anatomy of corneal nerves had reached maturity. Epithelial bundles converged into the central area to form the vortex. The number and pattern of whorl-like structures were different. Subbasal nerve density and nerve terminals were greater in the center than the periphery. Nerve fibers and terminals that were CGRP-positive were more abundant than SP-positive nerves and terminals. In trigeminal ganglia, the number of CGRP-positive neurons significantly outnumbered those positive for SP.
This is the first study to show a complete map of the entire corneal nerves and CGRP and SP sensory neuropeptide distribution in the mouse cornea. This finding shows mouse corneal innervation has many similarities to human cornea and makes the mouse an appropriate model to study pathologies involving corneal nerves.
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