Differential Effects of Hormones on Cellular Metabolism in Keratoconus in Vitro

Tina B. McKay, Jesper Hjortdal, Henrik Sejersen, Dimitrios Karamichos

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25 Scopus citations


Keratoconus (KC) is a corneal thinning disease with an onset commonly immediately post-puberty and stabilization by 40 to 50 years of age. The role of hormones in regulating corneal tissue structure in homeostatic and pathological conditions is unknown. Our group recently linked altered hormone levels to KC. Our current study sought to investigate and delineate the effects of exogenous hormones, such as androgen, luteotropin, and estrogen, on corneal stroma bioenergetics. We utilized our established 3D in vitro model to characterize the effects of DHEA, prolactin, 17β-estradiol on insulin-growth factor-1 and -2 (IGF-1, -2) signaling and metabolic function in primary corneal fibroblasts from healthy controls (HCFs) and KC patients (HKCs). Our data showed that exogenous DHEA significantly downregulated IGF-1 and its receptor in both HCFs and HKCs with HKCs showing consistently lower basal pentose phosphate flux. Prolactin caused no significant change in IGF-1 levels and an increase in IGF-2 in HKCs correlating with an increase in ATP and NADH levels. 17β-estradiol led to a significant upregulation in pentose phosphate flux and glycolytic intermediates in HCFs. Our results identified hormone-specific responses regulated in HKCs compared to HCFs revealing a novel role for hormones on bioenergetics in KC.

Original languageEnglish
Article number42896
JournalScientific Reports
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2017


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