Visual deprivation stimulates the exchange of the fibrous sclera into the cartilaginous sclera in chicks

Exp Eye Res. 2001 Oct;73(4):533-46. doi: 10.1006/exer.2001.1064.


Form deprivation myopia in chicks is a widely accepted model to study visually-regulated postnatal ocular growth. The chick sclera has a cartilaginous layer as well as the fibrous layer found in mammals. It appears that a dynamic relationship exists between these two layers during visual deprivation-induced growth. The changes in the fibrous sclera of myopic eyes, however, have not been previously described. This investigation is focused on the comparative morphological analyses of the cartilaginous and fibrous scleral changes in myopic chick eyes. The fibrous scleral changes in the posterior segment of myopic eyes were examined in detail using light and electron microscopy, and the expression of growth factors was analysed by immunohistochemistry. In the posterior segment of myopic eyes the border between the cartilaginous and fibrous layers was indistinct because of collagen bundles of the fibrous sclera that spread into the cartilaginous sclera, whereas in control eyes the distinction was clear. Various types of transitional cells, from fibroblast-like mesenchymal cells to chondrocytes, were found in the border between the cartilaginous and fibrous layers. Collagen fibrillar diameters of the fibrous sclera in the posterior segment of myopic eyes were smaller than in control, whereas those in the equatorial segment were almost the same in myopic and control eyes although the distribution of sizes was obviously different. Thus, changes in the fibrous sclera in myopic eyes of chicks seem to be similar to scleral changes in myopic eyes of mammals. The cells in the posterior sclera of myopic eyes were more intensely immunostained for TGF-beta and IGF-II than control, whereas no immunoreaction of TGF-alpha could be detected in either control or myopic eyes. These results suggest that the structural characteristics of the posterior sclera are different from those of the anterior and equatorial segments. Undifferentiated mesenchymal cells might be concentrically distributed exclusively in the innermost layer of posterior fibrous sclera. TGF-beta and IGF-II might influence cell growth, differentiation, and migration in the exaggerated scleral growth accompanying myopia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chickens
  • Collagen / ultrastructure
  • Decorin
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Fibrosis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
  • Myopia / metabolism
  • Myopia / pathology*
  • Myopia / physiopathology
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Sclera / growth & development
  • Sclera / metabolism
  • Sclera / ultrastructure*
  • Sensory Deprivation
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism


  • Decorin
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Proteoglycans
  • Transforming Growth Factor alpha
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor II
  • Collagen