An Association of Vitamins A and E with Hyaluronic and Lactobionic Acids may Prevent Molecular Changes Associated with Keratocyte to Myofibroblast Transition

Martina Cristaldi (Research Center, Sooft Italia SpA c/o Biologic Tower, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy)
Gabriella Lupo (Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, Biologic Tower, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy)
Melania Olivieri (Research Center, Sooft Italia SpA c/o Biologic Tower, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy)
Giorgia Spampinato (Research Center, Sooft Italia SpA c/o Biologic Tower, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy)
Carmelina D. Anfuso (Department of Biomedical and Biotechnological Sciences, Biologic Tower, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy)
Dario Rusciano (Research Center, Sooft Italia SpA c/o Biologic Tower, University of Catania, 95123 Catania, Italy)


Inflammatory events in the corneal stroma may activate keratocytes and trigger their transition towards myofibroblasts, which now produce different extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins thus causing corneal opacification.Corneal haze is a frequent side effect after photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) to correct high myopia.Currently, a preventive treatment with mitomycin-c can be used to limit the occurrence of this phenomenon. However, mitomycin-c is a toxic drug, not devoid of side effects, which may occasionally involve the corneal endothelium. Therefore, we have searched for a less risky, natural way, to prevent keratocytes transition. To this purpose, we have used as markers of the phenotype switch the proteins lumican (highly expressed by keratocytes and much less by myofibroblasts) and smooth muscle actin (αSMA) (highly expressed by myofibroblasts and poorly found in keratocytes), beside Fibronectin (Fn), the expression of which is also increased by transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ treatment. Treatment of human keratocytes with TGFβ was used to induce the protein shift. Among different possible candidates, we have found that vitamins A and E, hyaluronic and lactobionic acids may prevent, either alone, or much better in association, the shift in the ratio between lumican and αSMA and the increased Fn expression. In conclusion, it could be speculated that topic treatment of the ocular surface with an association of these four compounds could be able to prevent or at least limit the occurrence of post-PRK corneal haze, with the additional advantage of lubrication, hydration and antioxidant defense exerted by these molecules.


Corneal haze;Keratocytes;Lumican;Vitamins;Hyaluronic acid;Lactobionic acid

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