Purpose: Determine the tissue distribution patterns for tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP-1, TIMP-2, TIMP-3), gelatinase A and gelatinase B in normal and pathologic corneas.
Methods: Corneas were examined by immunohistochemistry, using antibodies to TIMP-1, TIMP-2, TIMP-3, gelatinase A or gelatinase B.
Results: In normal corneas, TIMP-1 antibody stained the epithelium and endothelium. TIMP-2 and TIMP-3 stained the epithelium, keratocytes and endothelium. Gelatinase A staining was weak and restricted to the epithelial cells. Radial keratotomy scars showed increased staining for TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 around the epithelial cell plug and along the incision. Bullous keratopathy corneas showed TIMP staining patterns similar to normal corneas and increased gelatinase A staining in regions of subepithelial fibrosis. Stromal scars of keratoconus corneas also had increased staining with TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 antibodies. In many keratoconus corneas, the TIMP-3 staining pattern was similar to normal corneas. However, in some keratoconus corneas, when Bowman's layer was missing, the stroma beneath was completely devoid of TIMP-3 antibody staining. No gelatinase B was seen in either the normal or diseased corneas.
Conclusion: These data suggest that TIMP-1 and TIMP-2 are important for scar formation and corneal remodeling, since they were found in increased amounts at radial keratotomy incision sites and keratoconus scars. The significance of the focal stromal defects in TIMP-3 staining, associated with absence of Bowman's layer on keratoconus corneas, needs to be elucidated. At the stages of disease examined in this study, gelatinase B may not play a significant role in these pathological processes, since it was not seen in any of the corneas examined.