Purpose: The migration, proliferation, differentiation, and adhesion of cells and other cellular functions are influenced by the surrounding extracellular matrix in normal and wound healing conditions. The formation of epiretinal membranes, a wound healing process, is a serious complication of retinal diseases, the most important being proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) and proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). In the present study, the authors investigated the expression of various extracellular matrix components and in particular tenascin, fibronectin, laminin, collagen IV, and MMP-3 glycoprotein as well as the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein in each type of epithelial membrane in order to elucidate the role of these molecules in the formation of these two types of membranes.
Methods: The authors performed immunohistochemistry in 14 PVR and 14 PDR membranes, using antibodies against the above mentioned extracellular matrix components. Tenascin and fibronectin were observed as major components in the extracellular matrix, while laminin and collagen type IV were detected as minor components in both types of membranes. A higher fibronectin expression in PVR compared with PDR membranes was found (p=0.0035). A positive relationship of its expression with the proliferative activity (p=0.15) and collagen type IV expression (p<0.0001) was also observed.
Results: Tenascin expression was positively correlated with glial fibrillary acidic protein positive cells in PDR membranes (p=0.04). Collagen type IV localized around vessels was observed with high levels in PDR membranes (p=0.0031).
Conclusions: The results indicated that the extracellular matrix components seem to be involved in PVR and PDR, contributing to tissue remodeling and perhaps by different pathogenetic pathways, which could reflect different stages of development in these two types of membranes.