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Exp Eye Res. 1994 Jul;59(1):41-51.

Collagen type IV gene expression in human optic nerve heads with primary open angle glaucoma.

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Schepens Eye Research Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114.


Previous studies have demonstrated proliferation of basement membranes in the optic nerve head in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). We used in situ hybridization (ISH) of a radiolabeled riboprobe specific for human collagen IV, a ubiquitous component of basement membranes, to identify cells actively synthesizing basement membranes in the optic nerve head in POAG. In addition, to detect and further characterize the collagen IV mRNA transcripts, we used reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in total RNA extracted from individual optic nerve heads with POAG and from age-matched normal controls. ISH results demonstrate that, in POAG, numerous astrocytes in the prelaminar region expressed collagen IV mRNA. Lamina cribrosa cells and astrocytes in the compressed lamina cribrosa hybridized the probe. Few astrocytes and lamina cribrosa cells hybridized the probe in the optic nerve head of normal age-matched controls. RT-PCR products for collagen IV and for glyceraldehyde-3-dehydrogenase (G3PDH), a reference gene, were detected by agarose electrophoresis as single bands of the expected sizes and positively identified by Southern hybridization using specific cDNA probes in normal and POAG samples. No additional products (bands) were observed in RT-PCR experiments, indicating that there was no genomic DNA contamination in the total RNA extract. The lack of additional bands suggests that, at least in the ten samples used in this study, there were no alternatively spliced RNA products in any of the amplified sequences. Semi-quantitative analyses using densitometry showed a two-fold increase in collagen type IV PCR present in POAG samples. No differences were detected in levels of G3PDH PCR products between POAG and normal samples. This investigation provides evidence of increased biosynthesis of collagen type IV at the mRNA level in optic nerve heads with POAG. Whether this phenomenon represents a response to elevated intraocular pressure or a reparative mechanism to the loss of axons remains to be determined.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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