Induction of cataract-like changes in rat lens epithelial explants by transforming growth factor β

Jie Liu, Angela M. Hales, Coral G. Chamberlain, John W. McAvoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. To investigate the possible role of transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) in lens development and growth, the authors studied the influence of TGFβ, alone and in combination with fibroblast growth factor (FGF), on lens epithelial explants. Methods. Lens explants were prepared from both postnatal and adult rats, and changes during 5 days of culture with growth factor(s) were monitored by light and electron microscopy, immunolocalization of laminin, heparan sulfate proteoglycan and fiber-specific crystallins, and crystallin enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Results. TGFβ induced cells in explants to undergo an extensive and rapid elongation with features that distinguished it from FGF-induced fiber differentiation. TGFβ also induced accumulation of extracellular matrix, capsule wrinkling, cell death by apoptosis, and distinctive arrangements of cells. Standard explants from 10- day-old rats responded to TGFβ only in the presence of FGF. Comparable explants from adult rats or from 21-day-old rats (cultured on a laminin substratum) responded readily to TGFβ whether or not FGF was present. Conclusions. First, these results suggest a role for TGFβ in regulating normal processes in lens cells such as the production of extracellular matrix and capsule formation. Second, because many of the changes induced by TGFβ resembled changes reported to occur during the formation of various kinds of subcapsular cataracts, the results suggest that detailed studies of factors that influence the ability of lens cells to respond to TGFβ and the bioavailability of TGFβ in the ocular media may provide important insights into the etiology of some forms of cataract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)388-401
Number of pages14
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • cataract
  • extracellular matrix
  • fibroblast growth factor
  • lens
  • transforming growth factor β


Dive into the research topics of 'Induction of cataract-like changes in rat lens epithelial explants by transforming growth factor β'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this