Effect of vitamin D receptor knockout on cornea epithelium wound healing and tight junctions

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2014 Jul 24;55(8):5245-51. doi: 10.1167/iovs.13-13553.


Purpose: Our laboratory previously determined that vitamin D3, the vitamin D receptor (VDR), and 1α hydroxylase are present and active in the eye. In this study, we examined the effects of VDR knockout on wound healing, the tight junction-associated proteins occludin and ZO-1, and tight junction numbers in mouse corneas.

Methods: Epithelial wounds (2-mm) were made with an agar brush on 4-week-old and 10-week-old wild-type, heterozygous, and VDR knockout mouse corneas. Mice were on a normal or high lactose, Ca(2+), and PO₄(-) diet. Wound-healing area was measured over time. Real-time PCR was used to quantify occludin and ZO-1 message expression. Western blot was used for protein expression. Transmission electron microscopy was used to examine corneal epithelium and endothelium tight junctions. Immunofluorescence was used to examine epithelial ZO-1 distribution.

Results: Results showed a decreased healing rate in 10-week-old VDR knockout mice compared with wild-types. Vitamin D receptor knockout mice on the special diet had no difference in healing rate compared with wild-types. Real-time PCR showed decreased expression of occludin and ZO-1 in 10-week-old VDR knockout mice compared with wild-types. Western blot of 10-week-old knockout mouse corneas showed decreased occludin expression compared with wild-types. Transmission electron microscopy showed a significant difference in tight junction numbers in VDR knockouts versus wild-types. Immunofluorescence showed a change in ZO-1 distribution among genotypes.

Conclusions: Vitamin D receptor knockout affects mouse corneal epithelium wound healing and tight junction integrity.

Keywords: corneal epithelium; tight junctions; vitamin D; wound healing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endothelium, Corneal / cytology
  • Endothelium, Corneal / physiology
  • Epithelium, Corneal / cytology
  • Epithelium, Corneal / physiology*
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Occludin / metabolism
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / deficiency
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / physiology*
  • Tight Junctions / physiology*
  • Wound Healing / physiology*
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein / metabolism


  • Occludin
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein