AIMS--The study was carried out to search for labelling similar to that of intraocular exfoliation material in the conjunctiva by light microscopy using lectin and immunohistochemistry. METHODS--Ten formalin fixed and paraffin embedded conjunctival biopsy specimens both from patients with and without exfoliation syndrome were studied with a panel of 11 lectins and with three monoclonal antibodies to the HNK-1 carbohydrate epitope, all of which react with intraocular exfoliation material. RESULTS--The lectin binding profile was essentially the same in specimens from patients with and without exfoliation syndrome. The superficial epithelium reacted similarly with Phaseolus vulgaris (PHA-E), Caragana arborescens (CAA), Helix pomatia (HPA), concanavalin A (ConA), and wheat germ (WGA) agglutinins. Binding was also detected with peanut (PNA) and Bauhinia purpurea (BPA) agglutinins, particularly in patients with exfoliation. The basement membrane generally reacted with Ricinus communis (RCA-I), PHA-E, Vicia villosa (VVA), ConA, and Lens culinaris (LCA) agglutinins. The stroma was weakly labelled with RCA-I, PHA-E, ConA, and LCA. Lectin binding to the vascular endothelium was moderate with RCA-I, PHA-E, CAA, ConA, LCA, and WGA. Inconsistent labelling was also detected with PNA, BPA, and Erythrina cristagalli agglutinin (ECA). The subendothelial region reacted weakly but consistently with PHA-E, ConA, and LCA, and inconsistently with PNA. Pretreatment with neuraminidase did not change that pattern. Antibodies to the HNK-1 epitope reacted only with myelinated stromal nerve branches. CONCLUSION--No evidence of abnormal deposits in any specimen was found. The carbohydrate composition of intraocular exfoliation material may differ from that of exfoliation-like fibres often detected in the conjunctiva by electron microscopy.
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