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Exp Eye Res. 2014 Aug;125:53-61. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2014.05.006. Epub 2014 May 28.

Corneal epithelial and neuronal interactions: role in wound healing.

Author information

1
Department of Opthalmology, University of Rostock, Doberaner Strasse 140, 18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address: kbhavanis@gmail.com.
2
Department of Opthalmology, University of Rostock, Doberaner Strasse 140, 18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address: thomas.stahnke@med.uni-rostock.de.
3
Institute of Anatomy, University of Rostock, Gertrudenstrasse 9, 18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address: andreas.wree@med.uni-rostock.de.
4
Department of Opthalmology, University of Rostock, Doberaner Strasse 140, 18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address: rudolf.guthoff@med.unirostock.de.
5
Department of Opthalmology, University of Rostock, Doberaner Strasse 140, 18057 Rostock, Germany. Electronic address: oliver.stachs@med.uni-rostock.de.

Abstract

Impaired corneal innervation and sensitivity are the main causes of corneal neurotrophic keratopathy which simultaneously also leads to poor epithelial wound healing. Restoration of the diminished communication between the corneal epithelium and trigeminal nerve is indispensable for the proper functioning of the epithelium. The present study aims to investigate corneal epithelial and trigeminal neuron interactions to shed light on corneal wound healing during neurotrophic keratopathy. Mouse trigeminal neurons and corneal epithelial cells were cultured according to standard methods. To study the effect of corneal epithelial cells on trigeminal neurons as well as the effect of trigeminal neurons on corneal epithelial cells during wound healing, conditioned media from the cultures of pure trigeminal neurons (CNM) and corneal epithelial cells (CEM) were collected freshly and applied on the other cell type. Neurite outgrowth assay and RT-PCR analysis using primers specific for substance P (SP), Map1a, Map1b were performed on trigeminal neurons in the presence of CEM. We observed an increase in the neurite outgrowth in the presence of CEM and also in co-culture with corneal epithelial cells. Increase in the expression of SP mRNA and a decrease in the expression of Map1b mRNA was observed in the presence of CEM. We also observed the presence of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-like phenomenon during wound healing using a scratch assay in primary corneal epithelial cultures. This system was further employed to study the effect of CNM on corneal epithelial cells in the context of wound healing to find the effect of trigeminal neurons on epithelial cells. RT-PCR analysis of Pax6 expression in corneal epithelial cell cultures with scratch served as a positive control. Further, we also show the expression of bone morphogenetic protein 7 (BMP7) mRNA in corneal epithelial cells which is decreased gradually along with Pax6 mRNA when cultured together in the presence of CNM. The expression and down regulation of BMP7 in the presence of CNM was further confirmed at the protein level by western blotting. From this study it seems that the epithelial and neuronal interactions in the cornea may contribute to the corneal innervation as well as recovery of corneal epithelial cells during injury. Appraising the differences in the expression of various signalling molecules during EMT of epithelial cells in the presence of SP and BMP7 gives an insight into the detailed dissection of the involved signalling pathways to develop future therapeutics.

KEYWORDS:

bone morphogenetic protein 7; corneal epithelial cells; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; substance P; trigeminal neurons; wound healing

PMID:
24880142
DOI:
10.1016/j.exer.2014.05.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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