Objective: Heat-shock proteins, particularly the 70-kDa member (Hsp70), have been implicated in facilitating wound healing in multiple tissues. Expression and localization of three HSPs were assessed in normal and wounded canine corneas to elucidate a role in epithelial healing. Methods: Paraffin-embedded normal corneas, acute and repeatedly abraded corneas, and keratectomies of spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects (SCCEDs) were subjected to routine immunohistochemistry for Hsp27, 47, and 70 expression. Ex vivo corneal defects were created and treated with anti-HSPs or IgG controls, and wound healing was monitored. Primary cultures of canine corneal stromal fibroblasts and corneal epithelial cells were treated with exogenous Hsp70, and an artificial wound was created in vitro to monitor restoration of the monolayer. Results: Normal canine corneas exhibited constitutive expression of all HSPs evaluated. Inducible expression was demonstrated in acutely wounded tissues, and expression in the chronically abraded corneas was relocalized. All HSP expression was below the limits of detection in the epithelium of SCCED samples. Inhibition of HSPs in culture resulted in delayed wound healing when compared to controls. Hsp70-treated fibroblasts demonstrated significantly (P < 0.001) increased migration and proliferation compared to the vehicle control; however, there was no significant effect of exogenous Hsp70 on corneal epithelial cells. Conclusions: These findings suggest that HSPs are induced in the normal canine cornea during re-epithelialization. Hsp70 expression is likely important for inducing the cytoarchitectural remodeling, migration, and proliferation necessary early in the canine corneal healing response, and suppressed expression may contribute to the pathophysiology of nonhealing defects.
- Canine corneal wound healing
- Heat-shock proteins
- Spontaneous chronic corneal epithelial defects
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