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Glia. 2000 Nov;32(2):122-36.

Hydrostatic pressure stimulates synthesis of elastin in cultured optic nerve head astrocytes.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA. hernandez@vision.wustl.edu


Elastin is a major component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the lamina cribrosa in the optic nerve head in humans and nonhuman primates. The lamina cribrosa appears to be the site of damage to the retinal ganglion cell axons in glaucomatous optic neuropathy, characterized in many patients by elevated intraocular pressure (IOP). Type 1B astrocytes are the major cell type in the lamina, synthesize elastic fibers during development, express increased elastin mRNA, and synthesize abnormal elastin in glaucoma. In this study, we determined the effect of elevated hydrostatic pressure on the synthesis of elastin by type 1B astrocytes in culture. Type 1B astrocytes were exposed to gradients of hydrostatic pressure and tested for proliferation, morphology, synthesis, and deposition of elastin. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA) and immunoprecipitation of radiolabeled protein determined total new protein and elastin synthesis. Proteins from the conditioned media were analyzed by Western blot. Levels of elastin mRNA were determined by in situ hybridization. Cell proliferation increased approximately 2-fold after exposure to pressure for one day, approximately 5-fold after 3 and 5 days of exposure to pressure. Confocal and electron microscopic cytochemistry showed a marked increase in intracellular elastin in astrocytes exposed to pressure, as compared with controls. Intracellular elastin was associated with the RER-Golgi region and with the cytoskeleton. Total protein and elastin synthesis increased significantly (P < 0.05) at 3- and 5-day exposure to pressure, as well as the level of elastin mRNA. Elastin protein in the media increased with the level of pressure. These results indicate that hydrostatic pressure stimulates type 1B astrocytes to synthesize and secrete soluble elastin into the media. In glaucoma, type 1B astrocytes may respond to IOP-related stress with increased expression of elastin and formation of elastotic fibers leading to loss of elasticity and tissue remodeling.

Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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