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Roy Joseph, Akosua Boateng, Om P. Srivastava, Roswell R. Pfister; Role of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 2 (FGFR2) in Corneal Stromal Thinning. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2023;64(12):40. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.64.12.40.
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To determine the role of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2)–mediated signaling in keratocytes during corneal development, a keratocyte-specific FGFR2-knockout (named FGFR2cKO) mouse model was generated, and its phenotypic characteristics were determined.
A FGFR2cKO mouse model was generated by the following method: FGFR2 flox mice were crossed with the inducible keratocyte specific-Cre mice (Kera-rtTA/tet-O-Cre). Both male and female FGFR2cKO- and control mice (1 to 3-months-old) were analyzed for changes in corneal topography and pachymetry maps using the optical coherence tomography (OCT) method. The comparative TUNEL assay and immunohistochemical analyses were performed using corneas of FGFR2cKO and control mice to determine apoptotic cells, and expression of collagen-1 and fibronectin. Transmission electron microscopic analysis was conducted to determine collagen structures and their diameters in corneas of FGFR2cKO and control mice.
OCT-analyses of corneas of FGFR2cKO mice (n = 24) showed localized central thinning and an increased corneal steepness compared to control mice (n = 23). FGFR2cKO mice further showed a decreased expression in collagen-1, decreased collagen diameters, acute corneal hydrops, an increased fibronectin expression, and an increased number of TUNEL-positive cells suggesting altered collagen structures and keratocytes’ apoptosis in the corneas of FGFR2cKO mice compared to control mice.
The FGFR2cKO mice showed several corneal phenotypes (as described above in the results) that are also exhibited by the human keratoconus corneas. The results suggested that the FGFR2cKO mouse model serves to elucidate not only the yet unknown role of FGFR2-mediated signaling in corneal physiology but also serves as a model to determine molecular mechanism of human keratoconus development.
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