Degeneration and transdifferentiation of human lens epithelial cells in nuclear and anterior polar cataracts

Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
C K JooJ Kim


To study the possible mechanisms of cataractogenesis by evaluating the characteristics of cataractous lens epithelial cells (LECs) in different types of human cataract. Kangnam St. Mary's Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. Lens epithelial cells attached to the anterior capsules in eyes with nuclear or anterior subcapsular were analyzed for morphological characteristics by electron microscopy and for cellular characteristics by immunohistochemistry. Human LECs beneath the anterior capsule were degenerated in nuclear cataracts and were transdifferentiated in anterior polar cataracts. In senile nuclear cataractous lenses, LECs beneath the anterior capsule showed degenerative changes in morphology. In nuclear cataracts, LECs were immunohistochemically positive for cytokeratin and vimentin, while those in anterior polar cataracts were positive for vimentin only. The LECs of anterior subcapsular cataracts were transdifferentiated into spindle-shaped fibroblast-like cells without cellular junctions and embedded within a fibrillar meshwork mass. The extracellular matrixes in the anterior capsule of anterior subcapsular cataracts were immunohistochemically positive for fibronectin, laminin, collagen type I, and co...Continue Reading


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