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    Desmin deficiency is not sufficient to prevent corneal fibrosis. Pietraszkiewicz Alexandra,Hampton Christopher,Caplash Sonny,Lei Ling,Capetanaki Yassemi,Tadvalkar Gauri,Pal-Ghosh Sonali,Stepp Mary Ann,Bargagna-Mohan Paola,Mohan Royce Experimental eye research The type III intermediate filament (IF) proteins vimentin and desmin are sequentially overexpressed in stromal myofibroblasts over the period when fibrosis sets in after corneal injury. Prior findings have revealed vimentin-deficient mice are significantly protected from corneal fibrosis after alkali injury, which has implicated this IF protein as an important regulator of corneal fibrosis. It has remained as yet unproven whether desmin contributes in any significant manner to corneal fibrosis. Here we have employed desmin-deficient (Des KO) mice in the corneal alkali injury model and show that injured Des KO mice develop fibrosis and show similar levels of corneal opacity at 14 days post-injury as wild type (WT) mice and retain this phenotype even at 30d post injury. Des KO corneas from injured mice show upregulation of vimentin and alpha-smooth muscle actin expression to equivalent levels as WT corneas, illuminating that desmin deficiency does not interfere with myofibrobast differentiation. Employing the small molecule withaferin A (WFA), an inhibitor of vimentin, we show that WFA treatment causes the decrease in steady state levels of vimentin and serine 38 phosphorylated vimentin, the latter a biomarker associated with corneal fibrosis, and improved corneal clarity through blockade of myofibroblast differentiation. To investigate further the mechanism of fibrosis in desmin deficiency, we examined keratin 8 expression in the epithelium, and found reduced levels of this cytokeratin in injured Des KO corneas compared to WT corneas. This finding also corroborates the decrease of cell proliferation in injured Des KO corneas compared to that in WT corneas. The fibrotic phenotype of Des KO corneas also features abundant vascularization, further exemplifying the magnitude of corneal pathology. Together, these findings illuminate that desmin does not contribute significantly to corneal fibrosis in this injury model. 10.1016/j.exer.2018.12.019
    The Corneal Basement Membranes and Stromal Fibrosis. Medeiros Carla S,Marino Gustavo K,Santhiago Marcony R,Wilson Steven E Investigative ophthalmology & visual science Purpose:The purpose of this review was to provide detailed insights into the pathophysiology of myofibroblast-mediated fibrosis (scarring or late haze) after corneal injury, surgery, or infection. Method:Literature review. Results:The epithelium and epithelial basement membrane (EBM) and/or endothelium and Descemet's basement membrane (BM) are commonly disrupted after corneal injuries, surgeries, and infections. Regeneration of these critical regulatory structures relies on the coordinated production of BM components, including laminins, nidogens, perlecan, and collagen type IV by epithelial, endothelial, and keratocyte cells. Whether a cornea, or an area in the cornea, heals with transparency or fibrosis may be determined by whether there is injury to one or both corneal basement membranes (EBM and/or Descemet's BM) and delayed or defective regeneration or replacement of the BM. These opaque myofibroblasts, and the disordered extracellular matrix these cells produce, persist in the stroma until the EBM and/or Descemet's BM is regenerated or replaced. Conclusions:Corneal stromal fibrosis (also termed "stromal scarring" or "late haze") occurs as a consequence of BM injury and defective regeneration in both the anterior (EBM) and posterior (Descemet's BM) cornea. The resolution of fibrosis and return of stromal transparency depends on reestablished BM structure and function. It is hypothesized that defective regeneration of the EBM or Descemet's BM allows key profibrotic growth factors, including transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGF-β1) and TGF-β2, to penetrate the stroma at sustained levels necessary to drive the development and maintenance of mature opacity-producing myofibroblasts from myofibroblast precursors cells, and studies suggest that perlecan and collagen type IV are the critical components in EBM and Descemet's BM that bind TGF-β1, TGF-β2, platelet-derived growth factor, and possibly other growth factors, and regulate their bioavailability and function during homeostasis and corneal wound healing. 10.1167/iovs.18-24428