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Attenuation of lysyl oxidase and collagen gene expression in keratoconus patient corneal epithelium corresponds to disease severity

The vast majority of people take for granted the power of eyesight. For those born without optical deficiencies, this sense defines much of their lived experience. Yet large numbers of people do not enjoy freedom from the dysfunction of this organ. This is for a variety of different reasons, one of which is keratoconus (KC). This is a progressive loss of vision brought on by the thinning of the cornea, which leads to astigmatism. This is most frequently a condition experienced by young adults, who begin to see symptoms as early as their second decade of life. However, the condition usually continues to get worse until the third or fourth decade, when it finally stabilizes. But for some this can mean permanent vision loss. However, some treatments do exist. For example, contact lenses can be used to help compensate for the vision loss, or surgical procedures can be performed, such as corneal collagen crosslinking, accelerated collagen crosslinking, and topography-guided photo refractive keratectomy, among others. Most of these procedures rely on maintaining or enhancing the corneal stiffness in an attempt to retard KC progression. However, depending on the severity of the condition, this can sometimes be only a temporary solution. A more permanent therapy would involve intervention on the molecular level, yet very little is known about the molecular factors that drive the loss of corneal structure integrity.

This is what Shetty et al. from Narayana Nethralaya in Bangalore, India set out to do with their study. Several different enzymes and genes are believed to have some role in the development of KC, such as lysyl oxidase (LOX), collagen I, collagen, IV, MMP9, and IL6 genes. However, no study has been made of how their expression levels correlate with KC disease severity. To conduct this study, the research team needed to carefully monitor the activity of these different substances to be able to determine their effect on KC pathology. For LOX, this was done using the Amplite® Fluorimetric Lysyl Oxidase Assay Kit. This tool uses Amplite's propriety LOX substrate that releases hydrogen peroxide upon LOX oxidation to measure LOX activity. This method allows for the detection of sub ng/ml LOX, which is much more sensitive than any other flourimetric assay for this enzyme activity.

The results of this study offer a new path forward for understanding and potentially treating KC. Shetty's research team found a significant reduction in LOX transcript levels in KC corneal epithelia, and LOX activity in KC tears correlated with disease severity. This molecular understanding of KC allows future research to focus on this relationship as the source of a potentially more effective and sustainable KC treatment. These results would not have been possible, however, if it had not been for the confidence obtained through the use of high-quality materials such as the Amplite® Fluorimetric Lysyl Oxidase Assay Kit. The high-sensitivity and accurate readings provided by this assay kit allow for researchers to feel their results are viable, opening the door for future research that can expand the biological understanding of KC.

 



Original created on October 19, 2017, last updated on October 19, 2017
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