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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2019 Oct 24. pii: S0006-291X(19)32009-1. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2019.10.107. [Epub ahead of print]

Semaphorin 3A potentiates the profibrotic effects of transforming growth factor-β1 in the cornea.

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Flaum Eye Institute, USA.
Department of Medicine, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA.
Flaum Eye Institute, USA. Electronic address:


Corneal scarring is a major cause of blindness worldwide with few effective therapeutic options. Finding a treatment would be of tremendous public health benefit, but requires a thorough understanding of the complex interactions that underlie this phenomenon. Here, we tested the hypothesis that the large increase in expression of Semaphorin 3A (SEMA3A) in corneal wounds contributes to the development of stromal fibrosis. We first verified this increased expression in vivo, in a cat model of photorefractive keratectomy-induced corneal wounding. We then examined the impact of adding exogenous SEMA3A to cultured corneal fibroblasts, and assessed how this affected the ability of transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) to induce their differentiation into myofibroblasts. Finally, we examined how siRNA knockdown of endogenous SEMA3A affected these same phenomena. We found exogenous SEMA3A to significantly potentiate TGF-β1's profibrotic effects, with only a minimal contribution from cell-intrinsic SEMA3A. Our results suggest a previously unrecognized interaction between SEMA3A and TGF-β1 in the wounded cornea, and a possible contribution of SEMA3A to the regulation of tissue fibrosis and remodeling in this transparent organ.


Epithelium; Fibroblasts; Keratocytes; Scarring; Stroma; Wound healing


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