Purpose: To assess the ability of basement membrane and extracellular matrix proteins to promote rabbit lens epithelial cell adhesion and migration, which may play a role in the development of secondary cataract.
Methods: Rabbit lens epithelial cells were isolated and grown in tissue culture for use in standardized assays to study adhesion and migration of rabbit lens epithelial cells in response to type IV collagen, laminin, fibronectin, and ovalbumin.
Results: Under these conditions, the adhesion of rabbit lens epithelial cells to surfaces coated with varying concentrations of type IV collagen, laminin, and fibronectin was shown to be dependent on concentration. Rabbit lens epithelial cells did not adhere to ovalbumin-coated surfaces at any concentration tested. Type IV collagen promotes maximal in vitro adhesion of rabbit lens epithelial cells at lower coating concentrations in comparison to laminin and fibronectin. In cell migration experiments, fibronectin promoted maximal migration at lower concentrations in comparison with laminin and type IV collagen. This was shown both in haptotaxis experiments (the migration of cells to surfaces coated with protein) and in chemotaxis experiments (the migration of cells to attractants in solution). Lens epithelial cells did not migrate in response to ovalbumin under the conditions of this study.
Conclusion: The results of these studies indicate that adhesion and migration of lens epithelial cells occurs in response to the lens capsule proteins type IV collagen and laminin and in response to fibronectin, a protein found in the lens during embryologic development. Because fibronectin plays a role in the embryologic development of the lens but is not normally present in the adult lens, the possible introduction of fibronectin into the eye after surgery may play a critical role in the posterior migration of lens epithelial cells and the development of posterior capsular opacification or secondary cataract.