Identification and localization of lamina cribrosa cells in the human optic nerve head

Tara Tovar-Vidales, Robert J. Wordinger, Abbot F. Clark

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18 Scopus citations


One of the central features of glaucoma is progressive cupping and excavation of the optic nerve head (ONH). Unmyelinated retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons exit the eye through the ONH, which is supported by the lamina cribrosa (LC) consisting of plates of connective tissue with channels for bundles of RGC axons. The LC progressively remodels during glaucoma, but the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for this remodeling are poorly understood. Two major cell types have been isolated and cultured from the human ONH, which differ in their characteristics. Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) positive ONH astrocytes are the major cell type and are reactive in glaucoma. GFAP negative LC cells are the second major cell type isolated from the human ONH, and in contrast to ONH astrocytes, are α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) positive. Although a number of in vitro studies have been conducted with LC cells, to date there has been no direct evidence for these cells in situ in the human ONH. We used GFAP and α-SMA immunofluorescent staining of human eyes to clearly demonstrate the presence of not only ONH astrocytes within the human ONH, but also LC cells within the cribriform (e.g. laminar) plates/beams of the LC region. Both of these cell types likely play important roles in the homeostatic maintenance of the ONH and pathogenic changes that occur in primary open angle glaucoma (POAG).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-97
Number of pages4
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • Extracellular matrix
  • Glaucoma
  • Lamina cribrosa cells
  • Optic nerve head
  • Optic nerve head astrocytes


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