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    Corneal opacities affect vision for millions of individuals worldwide. Fibrotic scar tissues accumulate in reaction to inflammatory responses and remain permanently in corneal stroma, and conventionally correctable only by donor corneal transplantation. Numerous studies have explored innovative approaches to reverse corneal scarring through non-surgical means; however, existing mouse models limit these studies, due to the lack of visibility of scar tissue in mouse corneas with steep curvature. Here, we reported that corneal scarring was modelled using a transgenic mouse line, Tg(Col3a1-EGFP)DJ124Gsat, in which enhanced green fluorescence protein (EGFP) reporter expression was driven by the promoter of collagen 3a1 (COL3a1), a stromal fibrosis gene. Similar to wildtype, Col3a1-EGFP transgenic corneas developed opacities after wounding by alkali burn and mechanical ablation, respectively, as examined under stereomicroscopy and Spectral Domain optical coherent tomography. The time course induction of EGFP was aligned with Col3a1 upregulation and matched with the elevated expression of other fibrosis genes (α-smooth muscle actin, fibronectin and tenascin C). Measured by flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, increased number of EGFP expressing cells and fluorescent intensities were correlated to corneal thickening and scar volume. After treatment with human corneal stromal stem cells or their exosomes, EGFP expression was downregulated together with the reduction of scar volume and fibrosis gene expression. These results have demonstrated that the transgenic mouse line, Tg(Col3a1-EGFP)DJ124Gsat, can be a valuable tool for the detection of corneal fibrosis and scarring in vivo, and will be useful in monitoring the changes of corneal fibrosis over time. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


    Irona Khandaker, James L Funderburgh, Moira L Geary, Martha L Funderburgh, Vishal Jhanji, Yiqin Du, Gary Hin-Fai Yam. A novel transgenic mouse model for corneal scar visualization. Experimental eye research. 2020 Nov;200:108270

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    PMID: 32979396

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