Author(s): Tandon A, Sharma A, Rodier JT, Klibanov AM, Rieger FG,
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Abstract This study examined the effects of BMP7 gene transfer on corneal wound healing and fibrosis inhibition in vivo using a rabbit model. Corneal haze in rabbits was produced with the excimer laser performing -9 diopters photorefractive keratectomy. BMP7 gene was introduced into rabbit keratocytes by polyethylimine-conjugated gold nanoparticles (PEI2-GNPs) transfection solution single 5-minute topical application on the eye. Corneal haze and ocular health in live animals was gauged with stereo- and slit-lamp biomicroscopy. The levels of fibrosis [α-smooth muscle actin (αSMA), F-actin and fibronectin], immune reaction (CD11b and F4/80), keratocyte apoptosis (TUNEL), calcification (alizarin red, vonKossa and osteocalcin), and delivered-BMP7 gene expression in corneal tissues were quantified with immunofluorescence, western blotting and/or real-time PCR. Human corneal fibroblasts (HCF) and in vitro experiments were used to characterize the molecular mechanism mediating BMP7's anti-fibrosis effects. PEI2-GNPs showed substantial BMP7 gene delivery into rabbit keratocytes in vivo (2×10(4) gene copies/ug DNA). Localized BMP7 gene therapy showed a significant corneal haze decrease (1.68±0.31 compared to 3.2±0.43 in control corneas; p<0.05) in Fantes grading scale. Immunostaining and immunoblot analyses detected significantly reduced levels of αSMA (46±5\% p<0.001) and fibronectin proteins (48±5\% p<0.01). TUNEL, CD11b, and F4/80 assays revealed that BMP7 gene therapy is nonimmunogenic and nontoxic for the cornea. Furthermore, alizarin red, vonKossa and osteocalcin analyses revealed that localized PEI2-GNP-mediated BMP7 gene transfer in rabbit cornea does not cause calcification or osteoblast recruitment. Immunofluorescence of BMP7-transefected HCFs showed significantly increased pSmad-1/5/8 nuclear localization (>88\%; p<0.0001), and immunoblotting of BMP7-transefected HCFs grown in the presence of TGFβ demonstrated significantly enhanced pSmad-1/5/8 (95\%; p<0.001) and Smad6 (53\%, p<0.001), and decreased αSMA (78\%; p<0.001) protein levels. These results suggest that localized BMP7 gene delivery in rabbit cornea modulates wound healing and inhibits fibrosis in vivo by counter balancing TGFβ1-mediated profibrotic Smad signaling.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of Biosensors & Bioelectronics