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Tenascin-C expression in normal, inflamed, and scarred human corneas


AIMS/BACKGROUND In adult tissues the expression of tenascin-cytotactin (TN-C), an extracellular matrix glycoprotein, is limited to tumours and regions of continuous renewal. It is also transiently expressed in cutaneous and corneal wound healing. There are limited data regarding its expression in inflammation and scarring of the adult human cornea. In this study, TN-C expression patterns in normal, inflamed, and scarred human corneas have been examined.

METHODS Penetrating keratoplasty specimens were selected from cases of herpes simplex keratitis, herpes zoster ophthalmicus, rheumatoid arthritis ulceration, bacterial keratitis, rosacea keratitis, interstitial keratitis, and previous surgery so as to encompass varying degrees of active and chronic inflammation and scarring. TN-C in these and in normal corneas was immunodetected using TN2, a monoclonal antibody to human TN-C.

RESULTS There was no TN2 immunopositivity in normal corneas except at the corneoscleral interface. In pathological corneas, TN2 immunopositivity was localised in and around regions of active inflammation, fibrosis, and neovascularisation. TN2 positivity was less in acute inflammation than in active chronic inflammation. Mature, avascular scar tissue and epithelial downgrowth were TN2 negative.

CONCLUSION These results indicate that in the adult human cornea, TN-C expression is induced in regions of inflammation, fibrosis, and neovascularisation, but that expression is absent in mature, avascular scar tissue. This suggests a role for this glycoprotein in inflammation, healing, and extracellular matrix reorganisation of the cornea.

  • tenascin-cytotactin (TN-C)
  • cornea
  • inflammation
  • scarring

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