"Surprisingly, about 15% of the identified proteins in the cornea are classical blood proteins, which indicate that they originate from the blood stream around the cornea and are not produced in the cornea," notes Dr. Enghild. "Our results also showed that proteolysis and post-translational modifications of proteins are common events in the normal human cornea."
Among the molecules that the scientists identified were proteins involved in antimicrobial defense, heme and iron transport, tissue protection against UV-radiation and oxidative stress. Several other proteins were known antiangiogenic factors, which prevent the formation of blood vessels.
The results from this research may open the door to future therapeutics for a myriad of corneal disorders. "It is essential to know the biochemical composition of normal healthy corneas in the effort to understand the molecular mechanisms behind corneal disorders," emphasizes Dr. Enghild. "By comparative proteomic studies of diseased and normal corneas we can identify differences in the expression profiles that may suggest avenues for therapeutic interventions. Because the cornea is so accessible, the potential for developing effective drugs for the treatment of corneal diseases is good. Furthermore, the work is likely to improve the clinical classifications of corneal diseases. Identification of the protein profile of the normal human cornea may also be very useful in the effort toward generating artificial corneas for transplantation."
To follow up on their initial research, Dr. Enghild and his colleagues have begun proteomic studies of corneas affected by granular and lattice corneal dystrophies, a
Contact: Nicole Kresge
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology