Purpose: Previous research in this laboratory has shown that fibroblast growth factor stimulates lens epithelial explants to proliferate, migrate, and differentiate into fibers in a progressive dose-dependent manner. The lens has distinct compartments where cells proliferate (germinative zone), migrate, or get displaced (equator) and differentiate into fibers (transitional zone). These compartments occur in an anteroposterior spatial sequence and the authors hypothesized that fibroblast growth factor plays a critical role in determining these spatial patterns of lens growth and lens polarity. To investigate this hypothesis the distribution of fibroblast growth factor in the lens was analyzed.
Methods: Immunohistochemistry was used to localize acidic fibroblast growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor in the cells and capsule of lenses from neonatal, weanling, and adult rats. Because of its functional relationship with fibroblast growth factor, heparan sulphate proteoglycan was also localized in the lens.
Results: In all ages examined, cytoplasmic acidic fibroblast growth factor is present in the germinative and transitional zones of the lens and both acidic fibroblast growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor are present in the capsule. A major finding is the co-localization of fibroblast growth factor and heparan sulphate proteoglycan reactivity in the lens capsule in the form of laminae. These laminae become more prominent as the capsule thickens and differences in arrangement of laminae between anterior, equatorial, and posterior regions of the capsule also become apparent.
Conclusions: The presence of fibroblast growth factor in lens cells and capsule in neonatal, weanling, and adult rats indicates an important role for fibroblast growth factor in lens cell biology. Moreover, the regional distribution of fibroblast growth factor, particularly in the lens cells, indicates that it may influence determination of lens polarity and growth patterns.