Attenuation of lysyl oxidase and collagen gene expression in keratoconus patient corneal epithelium corresponds to disease severity

Rohit Shetty, Arunapriya Sathyanarayanamoorthy, Reshma Airody Ramachandra, Vishal Arora, Anuprita Ghosh, Purnima Raman Srivatsa, Natasha Pahuja, Rudy M. M. A. Nuijts, Abhijit Sinha-Roy, Rajiv R. Mohan*, Arkasubhra Ghosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Keratoconus (KC) is characterized by progressive vision loss due to corneal thinning and structural abnormalities. It is hypothesized that KC is caused by deregulated collagen levels and collagen fibril-maturating enzyme lysyl oxidase (LOX). Further, it is currently not understood whether the gene expression deregulated by the corneal epithelium influences KC pathogenesis. We studied (i) the expressions of the LOX, collagen I (COL IA1), collagen IV (COL IVA1), MMP9, and IL6 genes in KC corneal epithelia, (ii) validated their expression levels in patient tissues, and (iii) correlated expression levels with KC disease severity. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the importance of these genes in the progression of KC.Methods: We analyzed the gene expression levels of the key proteins LOX, collagens (COL IA1 and COL IVA1), MMP9, and IL6 in debrided corneal epithelia from a large cohort of KC patients (90 eyes) and compared them to control patients (52 eyes) without KC. We measured the total LOX activity in the tears of KC patients compared to controls. We also correlated the protein expression levels of LOX and collagens by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in primary tissues from KC patients (27 eyes) undergoing keratoplasty compared to healthy donor corneas (15 eyes).Results: We observed a significant reduction in LOX transcript levels in KC corneal epithelia, and LOX activity in KC tears correlated with disease severity. Collagen transcripts were also reduced in KC while MMP9 transcript levels were upregulated and correlated with disease severity. IL6 was moderately increased in KC patients. IHC demonstrated a reduction in the protein expression levels of LOX in the epithelium and collagen IV in the basement membrane of KC patients compared to healthy donor corneas.Conclusions: The data demonstrates that the structural deformity of the KC cornea may be dependent on reduced expressions of collagens and LOX, as well as on MMP9 elevated by the corneal epithelium.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-25
JournalMolecular Vision
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2015


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