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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 13;8(8):e71117. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071117. eCollection 2013.

Increased corneal epithelial turnover contributes to abnormal homeostasis in the Pax6(+/-) mouse model of aniridia.

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1
Centre for Integrative Physiology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Abstract

We aimed to test previous predictions that limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs) are quantitatively deficient or qualitatively defective in Pax6(+/-) mice and decline with age in wild-type (WT) mice. Consistent with previous studies, corneal epithelial stripe patterns coarsened with age in WT mosaics. Mosaic patterns were also coarser in Pax6(+/-) mosaics than WT at 15 weeks but not at 3 weeks, which excludes a developmental explanation and strengthens the prediction that Pax6(+/-) mice have a LESC-deficiency. To investigate how Pax6 genotype and age affected corneal homeostasis, we compared corneal epithelial cell turnover and label-retaining cells (LRCs; putative LESCs) in Pax6(+/-) and WT mice at 15 and 30 weeks. Limbal BrdU-LRC numbers were not reduced in the older WT mice, so this analysis failed to support the predicted age-related decline in slow-cycling LESC numbers in WT corneas. Similarly, limbal BrdU-LRC numbers were not reduced in Pax6(+/-) heterozygotes but BrdU-LRCs were also present in Pax6(+/-) corneas. It seems likely that Pax6(+/-) LRCs are not exclusively stem cells and some may be terminally differentiated CD31-positive blood vessel cells, which invade the Pax6(+/-) cornea. It was not, therefore, possible to use this approach to test the prediction that Pax6(+/-) corneas had fewer LESCs than WT. However, short-term BrdU labelling showed that basal to suprabasal movement (leading to cell loss) occurred more rapidly in Pax6(+/-) than WT mice. This implies that epithelial cell loss is higher in Pax6(+/-) mice. If increased corneal epithelial cell loss exceeds the cell production capacity it could cause corneal homeostasis to become unstable, resulting in progressive corneal deterioration. Although it remains unclear whether Pax6(+/-) mice have LESC-deficiency, we suggest that features of corneal deterioration, that are often taken as evidence of LESC-deficiency, might occur in the absence of stem cell deficiency if corneal homeostasis is destabilised by excessive cell loss.

PMID:
23967157
PMCID:
PMC3742784
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0071117
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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