The goal of this study was to determine the role of insulin-like growth factor-binding protein-3 (IGFBP-3) in the pathogenesis of herpes stromal keratitis (HSK).
In an unbiased approach, a membrane-based protein array was carried out to determine the level of expression of pro- and anti-angiogenic molecules in uninfected and HSV-1 infected corneas. Quantitative RT-PCR and ELISA assays were performed to measure the amounts of IGFBP-3 at mRNA and protein levels. Confocal microscopy documented the localization of IGFBP-3 in uninfected and infected corneal tissue. Flow cytometry assay showed the frequency of immune cell types in infected corneas from C57BL/6J (B6) and IGFBP-3 knockout (IGFBP-3-/-) mice. Slit-lamp microscopy was used to quantitate the development of opacity and neovascularization in infected corneas from both groups of mice.
Quantitation of protein array dot blot showed an increased level of IGFBP-3 protein in HSV-1 infected than uninfected corneas and was confirmed with ELISA and quantitative RT-PCR assays. Cytosolic and nuclear localization of IGFBP-3 were detected in the cells of corneal epithelium, whereas scattered IGFBP-3 staining was evident in the stroma of HSK developing corneas. Increased opacity and hemangiogenesis were noted in the corneas of IGFBP-3-/- than B6 mice during the clinical period of HSK. Furthermore, an increased number of leukocytes comprising of neutrophils and CD4 T cells were found in HSK developing corneas of IGFBP-3-/- than B6 mice.
Our data showed that lack of IGFBP-3 exacerbates HSK, suggesting the protective effect of IGFBP-3 protein in regulating the severity of HSK.