Aims To analyse the relationship between mast cells and vascularisation in pterygia and to determine whether mast cells play an important role in the vascularisation of pterygia through the secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF).
Methods Fifty-two pterygia and forty-four normal conjunctiva samples were obtained. Formalin-fixed, paraffin wax-embedded tissues were analysed by immunohistochemistry with CD31 and VEGF antibodies. Dual-immunofluorescence was used to see the location of mast cells and microvessels. To prove that mast cells have the function of secreting VEGF, we used dual-immunofluorescence, toluidine blue stain and immunohistochemisty study.
Results Mast cells are located near the microvessels. The numbers of mast cells in pterygia (10.8±2.7) were significantly higher compared with those in conjunctiva (4.7±2.4, p<0.01). The numbers of microvessels in pterygia (20.7±5.4) were also significantly higher than those in conjunctiva (9.3±2.9, p<0.01). There was an association between mast cell count and microvessel density in pterygia (r=0.77, p<0.001). The cells were positive for toluidine blue staining and could express VEGF through a serial section stain. Dual-immunofluorescence showed that VEGF and mast cell tryptase (MCT) were expressed in the same cell.
Conclusion The results suggest that mast cells have a function in the vascularisation of pterygia through the secretion of VEGF.
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Funding This work was supported in part by the Anhui Provincial Natural Science Foundation (1208085MH178), the Natural Science Foundation of Higher Educational Bureau of Anhui Province (kj2011z189) and the Talent Foundation of the Department of Personnel Anhui Province (2010–45). This work was supported in part by the three foundations.
Competing interests None.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the ethics committee of Anhui Medical University.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.