A Theoretical Approach for the Electrochemical Characterization of Ciliary Epithelium

Life (Basel). 2020 Jan 23;10(2):8. doi: 10.3390/life10020008.


The ciliary epithelium (CE) is the primary site of aqueous humor (AH) production, which results from the combined action of ultrafiltration and ionic secretion. Modulation of ionic secretion is a fundamental target for drug therapy in glaucoma, and therefore it is important to identify the main factors contributing to it. As several ion transporters have been hypothesized as relevant players in CE physiology, we propose a theoretical approach to complement experimental methods in characterizing their role in the electrochemical and fluid-dynamical conditions of CE. As a first step, we compare two model configurations that differ by (i) types of transporters included for ion exchange across the epithelial membrane, and by (i) presence or absence of the intracellular production of carbonic acid mediated by the carbonic anhydrase enzyme. The proposed model configurations do not include neurohumoral mechanisms such as P2Y receptor-dependent, cAMP, or calcium-dependent pathways, which occur in the ciliary epithelium bilayer and influence the activity of ion transporters, pumps, and channels present in the cell membrane. Results suggest that one of the two configurations predicts sodium and potassium intracellular concentrations and transmembrane potential much more accurately than the other. Because of its quantitative prediction power, the proposed theoretical approach may help relate phenomena at the cellular scale, that cannot be accessed clinically, with phenomena occurring at the scale of the whole eye, for which clinical assessment is feasible.

Keywords: aqueous humor; ciliary epithelium; electrochemical conditions; fluid-dynamical conditions; ion transporters; ionic secretion; mathematical model; physiology; simulation; ultrafiltration.