Gross cystic disease fluid protein-15/prolactin-inducible protein as a biomarker for keratoconus disease

Shrestha Priyadarsini, Jesper Hjortdal, Akhee Sarker-Nag, Henrik Sejersen, John M. Asara, Dimitrios Karamichos

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42 Scopus citations


Keratoconus (KC) is a bilateral degenerative disease of the cornea characterized by corneal bulging, stromal thinning, and scarring. The etiology of the disease is unknown. In this study, we identified a new biomarker for KC that is present in vivo and in vitro. In vivo, tear samples were collected from age-matched controls with no eye disease (n = 36) and KC diagnosed subjects (n = 17). Samples were processed for proteomics using LC-MS/MS. In vitro, cells were isolated from controls (Human Corneal Fibroblasts-HCF) and KC subjects (Human Keratoconus Cells-HKC) and stimulated with a Vitamin C (VitC) derivative for 4 weeks, and with one of the three transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-b) isoforms. Samples were analyzed using realtime PCR and Western Blots. By using proteomics analysis, the Gross cystic disease fluid protein-15 (GCDFP-15) or prolactininducible protein (PIP) was found to be the best independent biomarker able to discriminate between KC and controls. The intensity of GCDFP-15/PIP was significantly higher in healthy subjects compared to KC-diagnosed. Similar findings were seen in vitro, using a 3D culture model. All three TGF-b isoforms significantly down-regulated the expression of GCDFP-15/PIP. Zinc-alpha-2-glycoprotein (AZGP1), a protein that binds to PIP, was identified by proteomics and cell culture to be highly regulated. In this study by different complementary techniques we confirmed the potential role of GCDFP-15/PIP as a novel biomarker for KC disease. It is likely that exploring the GCDFP-15/PIP-AZGP1 interactions will help better understand the mechanism of KC disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere113310
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number11
StatePublished - 18 Nov 2014


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