Purpose: To determine whether lens epithelial cells (LECs) undergo apoptosis during healing after cataract surgery to further characterize the healing process of the postoperative lens capsule.
Setting: Department of Ophthalmology, Wakayama Medical University, Wakayama, Japan.
Methods: Apoptotic cells were detected in human postoperative lens capsules using the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxy-UTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) method. The effect of exogenous transforming growth factor-beta2 (TGF-beta2) on mouse LEC apoptosis was also examined in an organ-culture system.
Results: Three of 17 postoperative specimens contained TUNEL-positive cells. In 2 lens capsules obtained earlier than 10 days, many TUNEL-positive cells, presumably apoptotic LECs, were observed beneath the residual anterior capsule. In cell multilayers in capsule opacification extracted later than 10 days, a few TUNEL-positive cells were seen in 1 specimen; most cells remained negative. In mouse lenses organ-cultured with 1.0 ng/mL TGF-beta2 for 48 hours, TUNEL-positive cells were detected beneath the lens capsule.
Conclusions: Lens epithelial cells undergo apoptosis during healing after cataract surgery, especially in the early phase. Transforming growth factor-beta2 may be a factor inducing apoptosis in in vivo LECs.