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J Ophthalmol. 2015;2015:852986. doi: 10.1155/2015/852986. Epub 2015 Nov 30.

Expression of HGF and c-Met Proteins in Human Keratoconus Corneas.

Author information

1
Save Sight Institute, Discipline of Clinical Ophthalmology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.
2
Save Sight Institute, Discipline of Clinical Ophthalmology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia ; Vision Eye Institute, Chatswood, NSW 2067, Australia.
3
Save Sight Institute, Discipline of Clinical Ophthalmology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia ; Vision Eye Institute, Chatswood, NSW 2067, Australia ; Auckland University, Auckland 1010, New Zealand.
4
Save Sight Institute, Discipline of Clinical Ophthalmology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia ; School of Optometry & Vision Science, UNSW, Kensington, NSW 2052, Australia.

Abstract

Keratoconus (KC) is a progressive degenerative inflammatory-related disease of the human cornea leading to decreased visual function. The pathogenesis of KC remains to be understood. Recent genetic studies indicate that gene variants of an inflammation-related molecule, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), are associated with an increased susceptibility for developing KC. However HGF protein expression in KC has not been explored. In this initial study, we investigated late-stage KC and control corneas for the expression of HGF and its receptor mesenchymal-epithelial transition factor (c-Met/Met). KC buttons (~8 mm diameter) (n = 10) and whole control corneas (n = 6) were fixed in 10% formalin or 2% paraformaldehyde, paraffin embedded and sectioned. Sections were immunolabelled with HGF and c-Met antibodies, visualised using immunofluorescence, and examined with scanning laser confocal microscopy. Semiquantitative grading was used to compare HGF and c-Met immunostaining in KC and control corneas. Overall, KC corneas showed increased HGF and c-Met immunostaining compared to controls. KC corneal epithelium displayed heterogeneous moderate-to-strong immunoreactivity for HGF and c-Met, particularly in the basal epithelium adjacent to the cone area. Taken together with the recent genetic studies, our results further support a possible role for HGF/c-Met in the pathogenesis of KC.

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