Interaction of leucocytes with human corneal endothelial cells (HCECs) can be observed in several clinicopathological conditions, such as uveitis, keratitis, and corneal graft rejection. Since leucocyte-endothelial cell interactions involve various adhesion receptors we have analysed the expression and distribution pattern of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM), the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), the vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1), the endothelial leucocyte adhesion molecule-1 (ELAM-1), and the cluster of differentiation antigen-44 (CD44) on flat preparations of normal and organ-cultured HCECs. NCAM and ICAM were constitutively expressed on HCECs whereas VCAM-1, ELAM-1, and CD44 were absent from normal HCECs. However flat mounts of HCECs from organ-culture preserved corneas showed a mosaic-like distribution pattern of VCAM-1 and ELAM-1 positive cells and garland-like clusters of CD44 positive cells. We suggest that modulation of ELAM-1, VCAM-1, and CD44 expression on HCECs may contribute to the regulation of leucocytes-HCECs interaction in the case of anterior segment inflammation.
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