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Rohit Shetty, Krishna Poojita Vunnava, Kamesh Dhamodaran, Himanshu Matalia, Subramani Murali, Chaitra Jayadev, Ponnulagu Murugeswari, Arkasubhra Ghosh, Debashish Das; Characterization of Corneal Epithelial Cells in Keratoconus. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2019;8(1):2. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.8.1.2.
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We studied the cellular characteristics of epithelial cells in the cone and extraconal periphery of corneas in keratoconus eyes.
This prospective observational study was conducted at Narayana Nethralaya Eye Institute. A total of 83 and 42 eyes with keratoconus and normal topography, respectively, were included in the study. Corneal epithelial cells were collected and analyzed for apoptosis, proliferation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and differentiation status using molecular and biochemical tools. Statistical analysis was performed using the Student's t-test.
Corneal epithelial cells from the cone showed significantly higher expression of proapoptotic marker BAX (P < 0.005) compared to controls. Significantly elevated expression of cell cycle markers CYCLIN D1 (P < 0.005) and Ki67 (P < 0.005) were noted in the extraconal region compared to controls. Cells of the cone showed significantly higher ZO-1 (P < 0.005) and lower vimentin (P < 0.005) compared to controls. Significantly lower expression of the differentiation marker CK3/12 (P < 0.05) was observed in cones compared to controls.
Cones of keratoconic corneas show enhanced cell death, poor differentiation, proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. The cellular changes of the corneal epithelial cells in the cone and extraconal region differ significantly in a keratoconus corneas.
Characterization of patient-specific corneal epithelial cellular status in keratoconus has the potential to determine the optimal treatment and therapeutic outcomes paving the way towards personalized treatment in the future.
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