Pump function of the human corneal endothelium. Effects of age and cornea guttata

Ophthalmology. 1985 Jun;92(6):759-63. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(85)33973-8.


The specific binding of tritiated ouabain to endothelial Na/K ATPase was used to quantitate the density of pump sites in the human corneal endothelium. Donor eyes, unsuitable for use in keratoplasty, were obtained from the Wisconsin Lions Eye Bank. The endothelium of each donor eye was examined using wide-field specular microscopy, and the specular micrographs were traced and digitized for the determination of cell density. Ouabain binding was measured in matched pairs of isolated endothelial sheets. A total of 26 pairs of donor eyes, ranging in age from 11 through 91 years, were studied. Twenty pairs, determined to have normal endothelia, were found to have a constant pump site density which was independent of donor age. Six donor pairs had moderate guttata; in this group pump site density was significantly increased. These results indicate that, although pump site density is normally constant in the human corneal endothelium, conditions which increase endothelial permeability, such as guttata, can cause a compensatory increase in pump site density and presumably pump function.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Child
  • Cornea / cytology
  • Cornea / metabolism*
  • Corneal Dystrophies, Hereditary / metabolism*
  • Endothelium / cytology
  • Endothelium / metabolism
  • Fuchs' Endothelial Dystrophy / metabolism*
  • Fuchs' Endothelial Dystrophy / pathology
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels / metabolism*
  • Membrane Fluidity
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase / metabolism


  • Ion Channels
  • Sodium
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase
  • Potassium