Phase-specific functions of macrophages determine injury-mediated corneal hem- and lymphangiogenesis

Kiesewetter A, Cursiefen C, Eming SA, Hos D

Sci Rep 2019 Jan;9(1):308

PMID: 30670724

Abstract

Macrophages are critical mediators of injury-associated corneal hemangiogenesis (HA) and lymphangiogenesis (LA). Yet, molecular regulators of the hem- and lymphangiogenic potential of corneal wound macrophages are poorly understood. Using two different mouse models of acute (perforating corneal incision injury) and chronic (corneal suture placement model) corneal injury, here we identified distinct functions of early- versus late-phase corneal wound macrophages in corneal HA and LA. Whereas early-phase wound macrophages are essential for initiation and progression of injury-mediated corneal HA and LA, late-phase wound macrophages control maintenance of established corneal lymphatic vessels, but not blood vessels. Furthermore, our findings reveal that the hem- and lymphangiogenic potential of corneal wound macrophages is controlled by the type of the corneal damage. Whereas perforating corneal incision injury induced primarily wound macrophages with lymphangiogenic potential, corneal suture placement provoked wound macrophages with both hem- and lymphangiogenic potential. Our findings highlight a previously unrecognized injury-context dependent role of early- versus late-phase corneal wound macrophages with potential clinical impact on therapy development for sight-threatening corneal neovascular diseases.

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