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Expression Profiles of Neuropeptides, Neurotransmitters, and Their Receptors in Human Keratocytes In Vitro and In Situ
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Integrative Medical Biology (IMB).
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Ophthalmology.
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2015 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 10, no 7, e0134157Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Keratocytes, the quiescent cells of the corneal stroma, play a crucial role in corneal wound healing. Neuropeptides and neurotransmitters are usually associated with neuronal signaling, but have recently been shown to be produced also by non-neuronal cells and to be involved in many cellular processes. The aim of this study was to assess the endogenous intracellular and secreted levels of the neuropeptides substance P (SP) and neurokinin A (NKA), and of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine (ACh), catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine), and glutamate, as well as the expression profiles of their receptors, in human primary keratocytes in vitro and in keratocytes of human corneal tissue sections in situ. Cultured keratocytes expressed genes encoding for SP and NKA, and for catecholamine and glutamate synthesizing enzymes, as well as genes for neuropeptide, adrenergic and ACh (muscarinic) receptors. Keratocytes in culture produced SP, NKA, catecholamines, ACh, and glutamate, and expressed neurokinin-1 and -2 receptors (NK-1R and NK-2R), dopamine receptor D-2, muscarinic ACh receptors, and NDMAR1 glutamate receptor. Human corneal sections expressed SP, NKA, NK-1R, NK-2R, receptor D2, choline acetyl transferase (ChAT), M-3, M4 and M-5 muscarinic ACh receptors, glutamate, and NMDAR1, but not catecholamine synthesizing enzyme or the alpha(1) and beta(2) adrenoreceptors, nor M1 receptor. In addition, expression profiles assumed significant differences between keratocytes from the peripheral cornea as compared to those from the central cornea, as well as differences between keratocytes cultured under various serum concentrations. In conclusion, human keratocytes express an array of neuropeptides and neurotransmitters. The cells furthermore express receptors for neuropeptides/neurotransmitters, which suggests that they are susceptible to stimulation by these substances in the cornea, whether of neuronal or non-neuronal origin. As it has been shown that neuropeptides/neurotransmitters are involved in cell proliferation, migration, and angiogenesis, it is possible that they play a role in corneal wound healing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public library science , 2015. Vol. 10, no 7, e0134157
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-107294DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134157ISI: 000358594300054PubMedID: 26214847OAI: diva2:849181
Available from: 2015-08-27 Created: 2015-08-21 Last updated: 2015-11-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Neuropeptides and neurotransmitters in keratocytes: importance in corneal wound healing processes
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Neuropeptides and neurotransmitters in keratocytes: importance in corneal wound healing processes
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: The cornea is the outermost transparent layer of the eye and it is responsible for the majorityof the eye’s total focusing power. Keratocytes are the resident cells of the corneal stroma and their function isto produce extracellular matrix components and to take part in corneal healing after injury, which may occurdue to trauma, infection or surgery. The process of corneal wound healing is complex. Shortly, keratocytesadjacent to the corneal wound undergo apoptosis and remaining cells start the process of proliferation andmigration in order to close the wound. Next, an influx of inflammatory cells such as macrophages andneutrophils occurs in order to clear the cornea from cellular debris. The final stage of the healing processrestores the quiescent state of keratocytes and remodels any disordered extracellular matrix components,leading to a healthy, transparent cornea. However, when the process of corneal wound healing is incompleteor disturbed, corneal scarring may occur, which can lead to significantly impaired vision. Despite extensiveresearch on corneal wound healing, corneal scarring remains a major cause of preventable blindness. Thehealing process is dependent on various cytokines and growth factors. However, it is possible that also othersignal substances are involved. Substance P (SP) is a neuropeptide well known for its role in pain perception.It has been shown that SP can also be produced by non-neuronal cells, including cells of the cornea, and thatit can have vast effects on physiological functions, including immune cell activity, and cellular processes, suchas cell migration, proliferation, and production of proinflammatory cytokines. Similarly, acetylcholine (ACh),a classical neurotransmitter, has also been reported to be produced by non-neuronal cells, including cornealepithelium, and to be involved in cell proliferation, angiogenesis, cell migration, apoptosis, and collagen geneexpression. In the studies of this thesis, it is hypothesized that neuropeptides and neurotransmitters areproduced by human keratocytes and that this production is increased in response to corneal injury. Moreover,it is hypothesized that the non-neuronal SP and ACh produced by injured keratocytes participate in cornealwound healing by enhancing keratocyte migration and proliferation, and/or by decreasing keratocyteapoptosis. The aims of this thesis project were to test these hypotheses and to study the underlying inter- andintracellular mechanisms of the effects of SP and ACh on keratocytes.Results: Cultured primary cells of the human corneal stroma expressed keratocyte markers (keratocan,lumican, CD34, and ALDH), the tachykinins SP and NKA, catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline anddopamine), ACh, and glutamate. Moreover, the cells expressed neurokinin-1 and -2 receptors (NK-1R andNK-2R), dopamine receptor D2, muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChRs) M1, M3, M4 and M5, and NDMAR1glutamate receptor. Significant differences were observed between expression profiles in cultured keratocytesobtained from central and peripheral cornea. Such differences could also be seen between keratocytescultured under various serum concentrations. Expression and secretion of SP in cultured keratocytes wasincreased in response to injury in vitro. SP enhanced migration of cultured keratocytes through stimulation ofits preferred receptor, the NK-1R, and activation of the phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase and Rac1/RhoApathway and subsequent actin cytoskeleton reorganization and formation of focal adhesion points. Moreover,SP stimulation led to upregulated expression of the proinflammatory and chemotactic cytokine interleukin-8(IL-8), which also contributed significantly to SP-enhanced keratocyte migration and to attractingneutrophils. ACh enhanced keratocyte proliferation in vitro at low concentrations and this stimulation wasmediated through activation of mAChRs and activation of MAPK signalling. Moreover, ACh stimulation led toupregulation of two proliferation markers: PCNA and Ki-67. ACh was also able to protect cultured keratocytesfrom Fas-induced apoptosis, even at low concentrations. Activation of mAChRs was necessary for this latterprocess to occur. ACh reduced caspases 3/7 activation in Fas-treated keratocytes. Inhibition of the PKB/Aktpathway revealed that its activation is essential for mediating the anti-apoptotic effect of ACh in keratocytes.Conclusions: This thesis shows that human keratocytes express an array of neuropeptides (SP, NKA) andneurotransmitters (ACh, adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine and glutamate), and their receptors, and thatstimulation of NK-1R by SP and stimulation of mAChRs by ACh lead to keratocyte cellular processes that areknown to be involved in corneal wound healing. Specifically, SP enhances keratocyte migration throughupregulation of IL-8, ACh enhances keratocyte proliferation through activation of the MAPK signallingpathway, and ACh is able to protect keratocytes from apoptosis by activation of the PKB/Akt pathway. Takentogether, these findings suggest that both SP and ACh, if entered at the proper stage, could be beneficial forcorneal wound healing.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2015. 56 p.
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1767
substance P, acetylcholine, migration, proliferation, apoptosis, corneal stroma
National Category
Cell Biology
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-111963 (URN)978-91-7601-385-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-21, KB3B1, KBC-huset, Umeå, 09:00 (English)
Available from: 2015-11-30 Created: 2015-11-27 Last updated: 2015-11-30Bibliographically approved

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