Cell biology of posterior capsular opacification

Eye (Lond). 1999 Jun;13 ( Pt 3b):484-8. doi: 10.1038/eye.1999.126.


Posterior capsular opacification (PCO), a major complication of modern cataract surgery, necessitates further surgical intervention in 10-50% of patients. PCO results from the growth and transdifferentiation of lens epithelial cells left on the anterior capsule at the time of cataract surgery. These cells proliferate to form monolayers on the capsular surfaces, and such monolayers continue to line the anterior capsule leaflet many years after surgery. Some cells, however, differentiate or undergo a transition to another cell type, and these processes greatly contribute to PCO. Equatorial differentiation of cells to fibre-like structures leads to Soemmerring's ring formation and peripheral thickening of the capsular bag. Closer to the rhexis, cell swelling can result in globular Elschnig's pearls, which may occlude the visual axis. Cells at the rhexis edge and those in the space around the optic appear to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition. The resulting cells are fibroblastic in morphology, express the smooth muscle isoform of actin and secrete extracellular matrix containing proteins not normally present in the lens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cataract / etiology*
  • Cataract / pathology
  • Cataract Extraction / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Lens Capsule, Crystalline* / pathology
  • Rats
  • Recurrence