Purpose: GABA antagonists inhibit experimental myopia in chick and GABA receptors have been localized to chick sclera and the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). The RPE and the choroid alter scleral DNA and glycosaminoglycan (GAG) content in vitro; opposite effects have been observed for tissues from myopic and hyperopic eyes. The aim was to determine the effect of GABAergic agents on the DNA and GAG content of chick scleral fibroblasts directly and in co-culture with ocular tissues from myopic and hyperopic chick eyes.
Materials and methods: Primary cultures of fibroblastic cells expressing vimentin and α-smooth muscle actin were established. GABAergic agents were added separately (i) to the culture medium of the scleral cells and (ii) to the culture medium of the scleral cells with the addition of posterior eye cup tissue (retina, RPE, retina + RPE, choroid + RPE) to cell culture inserts. Ocular tissues were obtained from chick eyes wearing + 15D (lens-induced hyperopia, LIH) or -15D lenses (lens-induced myopia, LIM) for three days (post-hatch day 5-8) (n = 12). GAG and DNA content of scleral fibroblasts were measured.
Results: GABA agents had a small direct effect on scleral cell GAG and DNA content but a larger effect was measured when GABA agents were added to the culture medium with myopic and hyperopic RPE and choroid + RPE tissues. GABA agonists increased (p = 0.002) whereas antagonists decreased (p = 0.0004) DNA content of scleral cells; effects were opposite for scleral GAG content. GABA agents significantly altered the effect of both LIM and LIH tissues (p = 0.0005) compared to control; the effects were greater for LIM tissue versus LIH tissue co-culture (p = 0.0004).
Conclusion: GABAergic agents affect the DNA and GAG content of scleral fibroblasts both directly and when co-cultured with ocular tissues. GABA antagonists that prevent myopia development in chick model could act via a scleral mechanism utilizing the RPE/choroid.