Evaluation estrogen, progesteron and androgen receptor expressions in corneal epithelium in keratoconus

Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2019 Oct;42(5):492-496. doi: 10.1016/j.clae.2018.11.015. Epub 2018 Dec 8.


Purpose: To evaluate the role of sex steroid hormone receptors in corneal epithelium in etiopathogenesis of keratoconus (KC).

Methods: Thirty patients with KC who were planned for corneal collagen-crosslinking and 20 patients who were planned for excimer laser for refractive errors included in this study. Corneal epitheliums were curated mechanically during surgeries. Right eyes were evaluated immunohistochemically and left eyes were evaluated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to investigate estrogenα, estrogenβ, progesterone and androgen receptors.

Results: Immunohistochemically, staining for progesterone and androgen receptors did not significantly differ between KC and control groups (p > 0.05). None of the cases had staining for estrogenα and estrogenβ receptors. qPCR showed that mRNA expressions of estrogenα and androgen receptors were significantly higher in the KC group (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: A significantly higher rate of estrogenα and androgen receptor expressions in corneal epithelium from patients with KC through qPCR supports a possible relation between KC and sex steroid hormones.

Keywords: Keratoconus; androgen; corneal epithelium; estrogen; progesterone; receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Epithelium, Corneal / metabolism*
  • Estrogens / genetics
  • Estrogens / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratoconus / genetics
  • Keratoconus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Progesterone / genetics
  • Progesterone / metabolism*
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Estrogens
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Progesterone