Purpose: The pathogenesis of pterygium is still not completely understood and many environmental factors, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation, play an important role in its etiology. Chronic exposure to UV radiation causes mutations in the p53 tumor suppressor gene, eventually leading to tumor formation. We analyzed the immunohistochemical expression of p53 proteins in pterygial tissues to determine the role of the p53 tumor suppressor gene in the development of pterygium.
Methods: Pterygial specimens were studied immunohistochemically using antibodies against p53 protein.
Results: Out of 38 specimens studied, 35 (92.1%) had conjunctival epithelial cells without p53 specific nuclear staining. Only three specimens (7.9%) had a few p53 stained cells. The role of UV radiation in the pathogenesis of pterygium is supported by epidemiological, geographical and microscopic findings. However, our results are not consistent with these data on a genetic basis.
Conclusions: We conclude that defective p53 tumor suppressor gene function seems to have no role in the pathogenesis of pterygium.