Purpose: To determine whether segmental labeling by the tracer molecule cationic ferritin (CF) is indicative of preferential patterns of fluid flow in the trabecular meshwork or of differences in cell and extracellular matrix properties. Nonlabeled regions could indicate no fluid entering that area, insufficient perfusion time, or that the cells and extracellular matrix differ in that region and cannot bind CF.
Methods: Six whole eyes (three normal and three with pseudoexfoliation [PEX]) syndrome were perfused with CF for 30 minutes to 4 hours. Wedges of trabecular meshwork were dissected and some wedges immediately fixed. Adjacent wedges were placed in a CF bath before fixation. Transmission electron microscopy was used to analyze CF labeling.
Results: CF increased in the trabecular meshwork with increasing perfusion time. At 30 minutes, CF labeled mainly the uveal and corneoscleral regions. By 4 hours, CF was found diffusely through the meshwork, although a few isolated nonlabeled areas were still present. Wedges immersed in the CF bath showed fewer nonlabeled regions at all time points. Clumps of PEX material labeled more heavily in the periphery than the center, suggesting the clumps were less permeable than surrounding regions. PEX eyes otherwise had similar labeling patterns.
Conclusions: Segmental labeling with CF implies regions of preferential flow exist in the meshwork. With increasing perfusion time, there were fewer nonlabeled regions. CF labeling of most regions of bath-immersed tissue suggests that nonlabeled regions do not differ in the characteristics of the cells, but rather that CF does not reach these regions.