The formation of tumors in the eye can cause blindness. But, for some reason our corneas, the transparent layer that forms the front of our eyes, have a natural ability to prevent it.
Researchers in the laboratory of UConn Health associate professor of neuroscience Royce Mohan believe they are closing in on an explanation for that. They detail their findings in what will be the cover article of September’s Journal of Neuroscience Research.
It has to do with a pair of catalytic enzymes called extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2) in the peripheral nervous system. When the ERK1/2 are over-activated in a specific type of cell known as Schwann cells, the “anti-cancer privilege of the cornea’s supportive tissue can be overcome,” says Mohan, who holds the John A. and Florence Mattern Solomon Endowed Chair in Vision Sciences and Eye Diseases at UConn Health.
Mohan’s research group, led by Paola Bargagna-Mohan, assistant professor of neuroscience, has now established a link between overactive ERK1/2 and corneal fibrosis, the thickening and scarring of connective tissue….(more)