Genes activated to promote corneal wound healing in dry eye disease
At the very front of our eyes, the cornea forms a transparent barrier that lets in light but also protects these delicate organs from the outside world. Keeping the cornea clear is critical for good vision, so populations of stem cells, including limbal stem cells (LSCs), provide constant maintenance and repair, while tears ensure the cornea stays lubricated. In dry eye disease, a lack of tears makes the cornea more vulnerable to injury, and recent research on stem cells in the eyes of mice (pictured, in green) reveals that this condition also alters gene expression in the LSCs. In particular, a gene called SPARC is more strongly expressed both in mice suffering from dry eye disease, and after the cornea is damaged. Tests on cultured corneal cells suggest the SPARC protein helps wounds to heal after mechanical damage, making it a promising target for developing treatments to tackle eye injuries.
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