Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (Arvo)
[en] Keratoconus is a corneal disease of unknown cause that involves a progressive thinning and scarring of the corneal connective tissue. We examined normal human and keratoconus corneas, including one healed penetrating keratoplasty specimen. Organ cell cultures of normal and keratoconus corneal specimens were labeled with radioactive proline and analyzed by CM-cellulose chromatography and slab gel electrophoresis to determine collagen biosynthesis. Collagen types I and III were synthesized in similar amounts by normal and keratoconus stromacytes in culture. Specifically purified antibodies were used to determine the distribution of collagen types in tissue sections by immunofluorescence. The distribution of collagen types I, III, and IV in keratoconus was also similar to that in normal corneas, except that scarred regions in keratoconus and at the host-graft juncture were largely type III. Immunofluorescent reaction of the anti-type IV collagen antibodies with Bowman's layer, in particular, and Descemet's membrane in keratoconus specimens indicated extensive destruction. Basement membrane destruction may play an important role in this disease.