AIMS: To assess the effects of the cytokines, interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGF-beta 2) and basic fibroblast growth factor (b-FGF), on the mitosis of and collagen synthesis by lens epithelial cells (LECs) of human cataracts. METHODS: The anterior lens capsule with attached LECs was obtained by capsulotomy during cataract surgery and cultured. The cultures at 2 to 3 weeks before confluency were used for the experiments. To quantify the mitosis and collagen synthesis, the incorporation of 3H-thymidine and 3H-proline, respectively, into the LECs was measured by a scintillation counter at 48 hours and 24 hours, respectively, after addition of the cytokine at various concentrations into the incubation medium. RESULTS: IL-1 and b-FGF increased the mitosis and collagen synthesis significantly, but IL-1ra significantly decreased the mitosis while leaving the collagen synthesis intact. TGF-beta 2 decreased the mitosis significantly, but increased the collagen synthesis significantly. CONCLUSION: These cytokines may play an important role in an autocrine or paracrine pathway in the proliferation of residual LECs after cataract surgery. Elucidation of the role of these cytokines may lead to the development of new therapies for the prevention of secondary cataract.
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