Cell signaling in regulation of the barrier integrity of the corneal endothelium.

The barrier integrity of the corneal endothelium, which is conferred by its tight and adherens junctions, is critical for the maintenance of deturgescence of the corneal stroma. Although characteristically leaky, the barrier integrity restricts fluid leakage into the stroma such that the rate of leak does not exceed the rate of the endothelial active fluid transport directed toward the aqueous humor. At a molecular level, the barrier integrity is influenced by the actin cytoskeleton and microtubules, which are coupled to tight and adherens junctions via a variety of linker proteins. Since the cytoskeleton is affected by Rho family small GTPases and p38 MAP kinase, among others, many pathophysiological stimuli induce plasticity to the cytoskeleton and thereby elicit dynamic regulation of the barrier integrity. This review presents an overview of the impact of several bioactive factors on the barrier integrity of the corneal endothelium through altered actin cytoskeleton and/or disassembly of microtubules. The main focus is on the effect of TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor-α) which is a pro-inflammatory molecule found in the intraocular milieu during allograft rejection and anterior uveitis. This cytokine elicits acute activation of p38 MAP kinase, induces disassembly of microtubules, disrupts the peri-junctional actomyosin ring, and concomitantly breaks down the barrier integrity. These effects of TNF-α could be inhibited by stabilizing the microtubules, co-treating with a selective p38 MAP kinase inhibitor, and elevating intracellular cAMP via A2B receptors or direct exposure to forskolin. Overall, the corneal edema following a potential breakdown of the endothelial barrier integrity can be rescued pharmacologically by inhibiting specific cell-signaling mechanisms.
AuthorsSangly P Srinivas
JournalExperimental eye research (Exp Eye Res) Vol. 95 Issue 1 Pg. 8-15 (Feb 2012) ISSN: 1096-0007 [Electronic] England
PMID21963716 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Review)
CopyrightCopyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Chemical References
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Actin Cytoskeleton (metabolism)
  • Animals
  • Capillary Permeability
  • Cornea (blood supply)
  • Endothelial Cells (metabolism)
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tight Junctions (metabolism)
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (metabolism)
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases (metabolism)
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins (metabolism)

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