TGFbeta pathobiology in the eye

Lab Invest. 2006 Feb;86(2):106-15. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.3700375.


Transforming growth factor beta (TGFbeta), a multifunctional growth factor, is one of the most important ligands involved in the regulation of cell behavior in ocular tissues in physiological or pathological processes of development or tissue repair, although various other growth factors are also involved. Increased activity of this ligand may induce unfavorable inflammatory responses and tissue fibrosis. In mammals, three isoforms of TGFbeta, that is, beta1, beta2, and beta3, are known. Although all three TGFbeta isoforms and their receptors are present in ocular tissues, lack of TGFbeta2, but not TGFbeta1 or TGFbeta3, perturbs embryonic morphogenesis of the eyes in mice. Smads2/3 are key signaling molecules downstream of cell surface receptors for TGFbeta or activin. Upon TGF binding to the respective TGF receptor, Smads2/3 are phosphorylated by the receptor kinase at the C-terminus, form a complex with Smad4 and translocate to the nucleus for activation of TGFbeta gene targets. Moreover, mitogen-activated protein kinase, c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and p38 modulate Smad signals directly via Smad linker phosphorylation or indirectly via pathway crosstalk. Smad signals may therefore be a critical threrapeutic target in the treatment of ocular disorders related to fibrosis as in other systemic fibrotic diseases. The present paper reviews recent progress concerning the roles of TGFbeta signaling in the pathology of the eye.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cataract Extraction / adverse effects
  • Eye / embryology
  • Eye / metabolism*
  • Genetic Therapy
  • Humans
  • Keratitis / therapy
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / pathology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smad Proteins / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology*
  • Wound Healing


  • Smad Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta