Expression of the kallikrein/kinin system in human anterior segment

Exp Eye Res. 2009 Aug;89(2):126-32. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2009.02.016. Epub 2009 Mar 4.


Tissue kallikrein acts on the substrate, low molecular weight kininogen, to liberate bradykinin in a variety of tissues. Bradykinin stimulation of B(2) kinin receptors has been shown to initiate signaling in trabecular meshwork cells and increase conventional outflow facility. The objective of the present study was to determine if the components for kinin generation and response are expressed in tissues of the human anterior segment. Expression of mRNA encoding tissue kallikrein (KK), low molecular weight kininogen, and B(1) and B(2) kinin receptors was examined in human ciliary smooth muscle (CM), trabecular meshwork (TM) and non-pigmented epithelial (NPE) cells using RT-PCR. Expression of component proteins was also investigated by immunohistochemical analyses performed on parasagittal sections of human anterior segment and TM cells, and by immunoblot. KK mRNA was detected in NPE cells and in cultured CM and TM cells from multiple donors. Each cell type also expressed mRNAs encoding both B(1) and B(2) kinin receptors. Immunohistochemical analysis of KK protein in sectioned anterior segment supported the RT-PCR results. Intense KK immunofluorescence was observed in the epithelial lining of the ciliary body and KK protein was also detected in the ciliary muscle. KK protein expression within the TM was demonstrated by analyses of TM tissue and cultured TM cells. The presence of KK along with B(1) and B(2) receptor proteins was confirmed by immunoblots of cell lysates prepared from CM, NPE or TM cells. Finally, both CM and TM cells were found to possess enzymes for bradykinin inactivation. These data demonstrate that key components for kinin generation and regulation are localized within the human anterior segment. Further, multiple cell types express both B(1) and B(2) kinin receptors and are targets for kinin action. The results support the possibility that kinins produced within the eye may contribute to the regulation of aqueous outflow.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Chamber / metabolism*
  • Bradykinin / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Ciliary Body / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Kallikrein-Kinin System / physiology*
  • Kallikreins / biosynthesis
  • Kallikreins / genetics
  • Kinins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Trabecular Meshwork / metabolism


  • Kinins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Kallikreins
  • Bradykinin