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Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) is characterized by Descemet's membrane (DM) abnormalities, namely an increased thickness and a progressive appearance of guttae and fibrillar membranes. The goal of this study was to identify abnormal extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins expressed in FECD DMs and to evaluate their impact on cell adhesion and migration. Gene expression profiles from in vitro (GSE112039) and ex vivo (GSE74123) healthy and FECD corneal endothelial cells were analyzed to identify deregulated matrisome genes. Healthy and end-stage FECD DMs were fixed and analyzed for guttae size and height. Immunostaining of fibronectin, tenascin-C, osteopontin, and type XIV collagen was performed on ex vivo specimens, as well as on tissue-engineered corneal endothelium reconstructed using healthy and FECD cells. An analysis of ECM protein expression according to guttae and fibrillar membrane was performed using immunofluorescent staining and phase contrast microscopy. Finally, cell adhesion was evaluated on fibronectin, tenascin-C, and osteopontin, and cell migration was studied on fibronectin and tenascin-C. SPP1 (osteopontin), FN1 (fibronectin), and TNC (tenascin-C) genes were upregulated in FECD ex vivo cells, and SSP1 was upregulated in both in vitro and ex vivo FECD conditions. Osteopontin, fibronectin, tenascin-C, and type XIV collagen were expressed in FECD specimens, with differences in their location. Corneal endothelial cell adhesion was not significantly affected by fibronectin or tenascin-C but was decreased by osteopontin. The combination of fibronectin and tenascin-C significantly increased cell migration. This study highlights new abnormal ECM components in FECD, suggests a certain chronology in their deposition, and demonstrates their impact on cell behavior.


Ange Tchatchouang, Isabelle Brunette, Patrick J Rochette, St├ęphanie Proulx. Expression and Impact of Fibronectin, Tenascin-C, Osteopontin, and Type XIV Collagen in Fuchs Endothelial Corneal Dystrophy. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 2024 Apr 01;65(4):38

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PMID: 38656280

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