FILIP1L-mediated cell apoptosis, epithelial-mesenchymal transition and extracellular matrix synthesis aggravate posterior capsular opacification

Life Sci. 2021 Dec 1;286:120061. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2021.120061. Epub 2021 Oct 16.


Aims: The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), extracellular matrix (ECM) synthesis and cell migration of residual lens cells constitute the canonical mechanisms of posterior capsular opacification (PCO). Recently, myofibroblast cell apoptosis is also observed in the rabbit PCO model. However, whether cell apoptosis is a key factor affecting PCO and regulates EMT/ECM synthesis/cell migration remains obscure.

Main methods: Flow cytometry was utilized to assess cell cycle and apoptosis. EMT marker α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), ECM markers fibronectin (Fn), type 1 collagen (COL-1) and apoptosis-associated proteins in the presence or absence of EMT/ECM inhibitor (LY2109761), apoptosis inhibitor (ZVAD) or apoptosis activator (BTSA1) were detected by Western blotting. Downstream effector genes in apoptosis-induced lens epithelial cell lines (LECs) were analyzed by RNA-seq. Gene silencing and overexpression in LECs were performed to validate the role of effector genes. We measured cell migration capability using Wound healing and Transwell assays.

Key findings: We found that TGF-β2 induced cell apoptosis. ZVAD inhibited α-SMA expression in the ex vivo capsule model and decreased the expression of both EMT and ECM markers in TGF-β2-treated LECs. RNA-seq revealed that FILIP1L was significantly decreased in apoptosis-activated cells. We further validated that the knockdown of FILIP1L could enhance EMT and ECM synthesis and promote cell migration and that FILIP1L overexpression could reverse these effects. Apoptosis might contribute to TGF-β2-induced EMT and ECM synthesis during PCO, and these contributions are mediated by FILIP1L.

Significance: Our findings uncover the role of apoptosis in PCO development and provide new drug targets.

Keywords: Apoptosis; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Extracellular matrix synthesis; FILIP1L; TGF-β2.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Capsule Opacification / genetics
  • Capsule Opacification / metabolism*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • China
  • Collagen Type I / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / drug effects
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / physiology
  • Extracellular Matrix / drug effects
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Lens, Crystalline / metabolism
  • Male
  • Posterior Capsule of the Lens / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Swine
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta2 / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta2 / pharmacology


  • Collagen Type I
  • FILIP1L protein, human
  • Fibronectins
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta2