BACKGROUND: The neuroepithelia of the choroid plexus (CP) in the brain and the ciliary body (CB) of the eye have common embryological origins and share similar micro-structure and functions. The CP epithelium (CPE) and the non-pigmented epithelium (NPE) of the CB produce the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the aqueous humor (AH) respectively. Production and outflow of the CSF determine the intracranial pressure (ICP); production and outflow of the AH determine the intraocular pressure (IOP). Together, the IOP and ICP determine the translaminar pressure on the optic disc which may be involved in the pathophysiology of primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). The aim of this study was to compare the molecular machinery of the secretory neuroepithelia of the CP and CB (CPE versus NPE) and to determine their potential role in POAG.
METHODS: We compared the transcriptomes and functional annotations of healthy human CPE and NPE. Microarray and bioinformatic studies were performed using an Agilent platform and the Ingenuity Knowledge Database (IPA).
RESULTS: Based on gene expression profiles, we found many similar functions for the CPE and NPE including molecular transport, neurological disease processes, and immunological functions. With commonly-used selection criteria (fold-change > 2.5, p-value < 0.05), 14% of the genes were expressed significantly differently between CPE and NPE. When we used stricter selection criteria (fold-change > 5, p-value < 0.001), still 4.5% of the genes were expressed differently, which yielded specific functions for the CPE (ciliary movement and angiogenesis/hematopoiesis) and for the NPE (neurodevelopmental properties). Apart from a few exceptions (e.g. SLC12A2, SLC4A4, SLC4A10, KCNA5, and SCN4B), all ion transport protein coding genes involved in CSF and AH production had similar expression profiles in CPE and NPE. Three POAG disease genes were expressed significantly higher in the CPE than the NPE, namely CDH1, CDKN2B and SIX1.
CONCLUSIONS: The transcriptomes of the CPE and NPE were less similar than we previously anticipated. High expression of CSF/AH production genes and candidate POAG disease genes in the CPE and NPE suggest that both might be involved in POAG.