Myofibroblasts are contractile cells having features intermediate between those of the fibroblast and smooth muscle. Myofibroblasts in preretinal membranes may cause retinal traction in proliferative retinal diseases. In this study, we demonstrate the presence of a chronically contractile subpopulation of myofibroblasts in pre-retinal membranes. Apha smooth muscle actin or desmin, both markers of the myogenically differentiated and chronically contractile subpopulation could be detected in a large majority of the examined membranes. Our findings may serve to explain the cellular basis of vitreoretinal traction in proliferative vitreoretinopathy and proliferative diabetic retinopathy.
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