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The human hyaloid system: cellular phenotypes and inter-relationships

M Zhu, J M Provis, P L Penfold
Experimental Eye Research 1999, 68 (5): 553-63
We have investigated the expression of leucocyte markers, phenotypic characteristics and cellular relationships of the normal human fetal hyaloid vasculature using immunohistochemistry, light and electron microscopy. Antibodies against von Willebrand Factor, alpha-smooth muscle actin, glial fibrillary acidic protein, vimentin, major histocompatibility complex classes-I and -II, CD45 (leucocyte-common antigen) and calcitonin gene-related peptide were used to identify the cellular constituents of the hyaloid vasculature in whole mounts. Additional morphological features were described at the ultrastructural level. Endothelial cells throughout the hyaloid system were immunoreactive to von Willebrand Factor and major histocompatibility complex class-I antibodies. Pericytes were immunoreactive to alpha-smooth muscle actin antibody; labeled cells were distributed along large branches of the hyaloid artery, vasa hyaloidea propria, tunica vasculosa lentis and pupillary membrane but no immunoreactivity was detected on small connecting capillaries. Vessel and non-vessel-associated hyalocytes on the hyaloid artery, vasa hyaloidea propria, tunica vasculosa lentis, pupillary membrane and vitreous were immunoreactive to major histocompatibility complex classes-I and -II, CD45 and calcitonin gene-related peptide antibodies. Anti-glial fibrillary acidic protein reactivity was detected on Bergmeister's papilla but not on the hyaloid artery. Cells immunoreactive for vimentin were present throughout the hyaloid vasculature including small connecting capillaries. Ultrastructural observations of the hyaloid vasculature revealed junctional complexes, including zonulae adherens, macula adherens and possible zonulae occludens, between adjacent endothelial cells. Fenestrae were not observed in the gestational ages included in the present study. The use of whole mounts in conjunction with specific antisera has provided novel immunohistochemical definitions of the structure and cellular constituents of the human hyaloid. The results indicate that hyalocytes are a heterogeneous population of leucocyte-lineage cells.


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