Differential global and extra-cellular matrix focused gene expression patterns between normal and glaucomatous human lamina cribrosa cells

Ruaidhrí P. Kirwan, Robert J. Wordinger, Abbot Clark, Colm J. O'Brien

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Purpose: Marked extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling occurs in the human optic nerve head in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG). The glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) negative lamina cribrosa cell may play an important role in this remodeling process. We report the first study of global and ECM-focused gene transcription differentials between GFAP-negative lamina cribrosa (LC) cells from normal and POAG human donors. Methods: GFAP-negative LC cell lines were generated from the optic nerve tissue of four normal (n=4) and four POAG (n=4) human donors. Using Affymetrix U133A arrays the transcriptional profile between the normal and diseased groups were compared. Bioinformatic analysis was performed using robust multichip average (RMA Express) and EASE/David. Real time TaqMan PCR and immunohistochemistry analyses were performed to validate the microarray data. Results: 183 genes were upregulated by greater than 1.5 fold and 220 were down regulated by greater than 1.5 fold in the POAG LC cells versus normal controls. Upregulated genes in POAG LC cells included, transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGFß1), secreted acid protein cysteine rich (SPARC), periostin (POSTN), thrombospondin-1 (THBS1), cartilage linking protein-1 (CRTL-1), and collagen type I (COL1A1), collagen type V (COL5A1), and collagen type XI (COL11A1). Downregulated ECM genes in POAG included fibulin 1 (FBLN1), decorin (DCN), and collagen type XVIII (COL18A1). All TaqMan PCR validation assays were significant (*p<0.05) and consistent with the array data. Immunohistochemistry of one target (periostin) confirmed its differential expression at the protein level in POAG optic nerve head tissue compared with non-glaucomatous controls. Functional annotation and over-representation analysis identified ECM genes as a statistically over-represented class of genes in POAG LC cells compared with normal LC cells. Conclusions: This study reports for the first time that POAG LC cells in-vitro demonstrate upregulated ECM and profibrotic gene expression compared with normal LC cells. This may be a pathological characteristic of this cell type in POAG in-vivo. We believe that the LC cell may be a pivotal regulator of optic nerve head ECM remodeling in POAG and an attractive target for molecular therapeutic strategies in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-88
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Vision
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2009


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