Purpose: To evaluate the roles of fibroblast proteins in the remodeling of the subconjunctival connective tissue, we immunohistochemically assessed the expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMP)-1 and -2, and the tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMP)-1 and -2 in cultured human subconjunctival fibroblasts and in normal and healing human subconjunctival connective tissue.
Methods: Cultured fibroblasts derived from human subconjunctival connective tissue and surgical specimens of normal and healing conjunctiva were immunostained with monoclonal antibodies directed against human MMPs and TIMPs and examined by light and electron microscopy.
Results: In the cultured fibroblasts, MMP-1 and TIMP-1 antibodies stained the cytoplasm in a fine granular pattern, suggesting localization of those proteins in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and Golgi apparatus. Antibodies to MMP-2 and TIMP-2 reacted with fibroblast cytoplasm in a granular pattern. Electron microscopy of those fibroblasts revealed MMP-1 and TIMP-1 immunoreactivity in the ER cisternae or on the membrane of the ER. In surgical samples, MMP-1 and TIMP-1 were immunohistochemically detected in healing subconjunctival tissue, but not in conjunctival epithelium or normal subconjunctival tissue.
Conclusions: MMPs and TIMPs may be involved in remodeling of subconjunctival connective tissue and in fibroblast population after surgical interventions. These proteins may play a crucial role in the post-operative fibrotic process occurring during scar formation in subconjunctival tissue.