Cultured human trabecular meshwork cells express functional growth factor receptors

Robert J. Wordinget, Abbot F. Clark, Rajnee Aganval, Wendi Lambert, Loretta McNatt, Steven R. Wilson, Z. Qu, Bernard K.K. Fung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


Purpose. To compare the mRNA expression of growth factor receptors in cultured human trabecular meshwork (HTM) cells with ex vivo HTM tissues and to determine whether HTM cells generate a physiologic response after exposure to exogenous growth factors. METHODS. The reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method was used to detect the expression of various growth factor receptor mRNAs using early passaged, cultured HTM cells from donors of several ages. RT-PCR on ex vivo HTM tissues from healthy donors and donors with glaucoma were also used to compare and contrast mRNA expression with cell culture results. After the exogenous administration of growth factors, cell proliferation and extracellular acidification rate studies were used to measure the functional responses of HTM cells to growth factors. RESULTS. Amplification products of the expected size for 15 growth factor receptors were detected in cultured HTM cells and in ex vivo HTM tissues. The administration of exogenous growth factors showed that (a) hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), epidermal growth factor (EGF), insulinlike growth factor (IGF)- 1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) α, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-AA, PDGF-BB, PDGF-AB, and basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2) stimulated cell proliferation, whereas FGF-1 (acidic), transforming growth factor (TGF) α interleukin (IL)1α, nerve growth factor (NGF), and FGF-7 (keratinocyte growth factor [KGF]) had no significant influence on cell proliferation; (b) TGF-β isoforms significantly inhibited EGF-stimulated trabecular meshwork cell proliferation; and (c) FGF-1 (acidic), TGF-α, EGF, IL-1α, IL-1β, HGF, TNF-α, PDGF-AA, and IGF-1 significantly stimulated extracellular acidification, whereas FGF-2 (basic), FGF-7 (KGF), TGF-β13, and NGF had no significant influence on extracellular acidification. CONCLUSIONS. These studies show that mRNA for numerous growth factor receptors can be detected in cultured HTM cells and in ex vivo HTM tissues. They also show that many of the receptors are functional, because exogenous growth factor administration elicits a physiologic response. In vivo, these receptors may be activated by growth factors present within the aqueous humor (aquecrine/paracrine) or by growth factors synthesized and released locally by trabecular meshwork cells themselves (autocrine). Specific growth factors acting through high-affinity receptors may be involved in maintaining the normal microenvironment of the HTM and also may be involved in the pathogenesis of primary open-angle glaucoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1575-1589
Number of pages15
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1998


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