Background: Transforming growth factor-beta 2 (TGF-beta 2) is a pluripotent cytokine which has been suggested to play a number of roles in ocular physiologic and pathologic states. Intraocular fluid (i.o.f.) levels of TGF-beta 2 are quite high. Although the sources of ocular TGF-beta are not completely defined, the retinal pigment epithelium, the epithelium of the ciliary body and trabecular meshwork cells all secrete it. In this study we utilized canine lens and rabbit ciliary pigmented epithelial cell cultures to quantitate the in vitro secretion of TGF-beta 2. In addition, the effects of aphakia or the presence of cataractous lenses on IOF TGF-beta 2 levels were determined.
Methods: Lens and ciliary body epithelial cell culture supernatants and aqueous humors were assayed for total TGF-beta 2 levels by ELISA and bioassay.
Results: TGF-beta 2 accumulated in the media bathing lens epithelial cell cultures (0.7 +/- 0.03 ng/ml at day 2) and ciliary pigmented epithelial cell cultures (0.8 +/- 0.06 ng/ml at day 2) in a time-dependent manner. Surprisingly, aqueous humor from aphakic rabbit eyes contained significantly higher levels of TGF-beta 2 than their contralateral phakic controls. Furthermore, aqueous humor from canine eyes with cataracts also contained significantly higher levels of TGF-beta 2 than normal eyes.
Conclusions: These results suggest that the lens secretes TGF-beta 2 and that the presence and status of the lens may influence IOF TGF-beta 2 levels.