Matrix and the retinal pigment epithelium in proliferative retinal disease

Prog Retin Eye Res. 1999 Mar;18(2):167-90. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(98)00024-x.


In their normal state, RPE cell are strongly adherent to Bruch's membrane. Certain pathological conditions such as retinal detachment cause an injury-type response (probably augmented or induced by the local accumulation of a variety of substances which modulate cell behaviour) in which RPE begin to dissociate from the membrane. This RPE-Bruch's membrane separation may be mediated by proteins with counter-adhesive properties and proteolytic enzymes, partly derived from the RPE themselves. Concomitant with the RPE disassociation, the cells begin to lose tertiary differentiation characteristics and gain macrophage-like features. When the "free" RPE arrive at the surface of the neuroretina, they may attach to or create a provisional matrix. Some of the cells adopt a fibroblast-like phenotype. This phenotype is similar to that of the dermal fibroblast during cutaneous wound repair and the fibroblastic RPE synthesise the types of matrix components found in healing skin wounds. Many of these molecules in turn further modulate the activities of the cells via several families of cell surface receptors, while the RPE continue to remodel the new matrix with a range of proteolytic enzymes. The resulting tissue (or membrane) has many of the features of a contractile scar and is the hallmark of the condition known as proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR). Thus the development of PVR, and the resulting tractional distortion of the neuroretina, appears to be dependent on RPE-matrix interactions. The interactions present a number of potential therapeutic targets for the management of the disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bruch Membrane / metabolism
  • Bruch Membrane / physiopathology*
  • Bruch Membrane / ultrastructure
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / metabolism
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / physiopathology*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / ultrastructure
  • Vitreoretinopathy, Proliferative / metabolism
  • Vitreoretinopathy, Proliferative / pathology
  • Vitreoretinopathy, Proliferative / physiopathology*


  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins