AIMS: To determine whether alpha smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA), a marker for myofibroblastic cells, is present in lens epithelial cells (LECs) in rabbit aphakic eyes. METHODS: Phacoemulsification was performed in rabbit eyes, which were enucleated after surgery. Immunohistochemical methods were used to detect alpha-SMA in LECs. RESULTS: Five days after surgery, the presence of alpha-SMA positive LECs was observed mainly around the adhesive portion of the anterior capsule margin and the posterior capsule. The posterior capsule was wrinkled at the adhesive portion. The alpha-SMA positive LECs were flattened with spindle-shaped cross sections. Seven days after surgery, the alpha-SMA positive LECs covered most of the central posterior capsule. They disappeared 10 days after surgery. On the other hand, the cuboidal LECs in the capsular bag were negative for alpha-SMA. CONCLUSION: The flattened LECs with spindle-shaped cross sections observed 5 days after cataract surgery contained alpha-SMA. Such LECs were distinguished biochemically from the cuboidal LECs, which lacked alpha-SMA.
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