Ultraviolet-A irradiation upregulated urokinase-type plasminogen activator in pterygium fibroblasts through ERK and JNK pathways

Shih-Chun Chao, Dan-Ning Hu, Pei-Yu Yang, Ching-Yang Lin, Chan-Wei Nien, Shun-Fa Yang, Joan E Roberts
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 2013, 54 (2): 999-1007

PURPOSE: Effects of ultraviolet (UV) B on the pterygium and its cells have been studied previously, whereas little is known on the effects of UVA. Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) is a protease involved in tissue remodeling and cell migration, and its levels are increased in pterygium. The purpose of our study was to investigate the effects of UVA on the expression of uPA in cultured pterygium fibroblasts.

METHODS: Cultured fibroblasts from early-stage pterygia and normal conjunctiva were irradiated with different dosages of UVA and compared to nonirradiated cells. uPA activities in the medium and uPA mRNA in the cells were measured by casein zymography and RT-PCR, respectively. Total and phosphorylated p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), extracellular signal-related kinase (ERK), and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) levels of cells treated with and without UVA were measured by Western blotting. Inhibitors of p38 (SB203580), ERK (UO1026), and JNK (SP600125) were added before the irradiation of UVA to test their effects.

RESULTS: UVA irradiation increased the uPA mRNA levels in pterygium fibroblasts and the uPA activities in cultured medium, which was accompanied with an increase in phosphorylated ERK and JNK. The ERK and JNK inhibitor, but not p38 MAPK inhibitors, significantly decreased the UVA-induced expression of uPA by pterygium fibroblasts. Normal conjunctival fibroblasts were less sensitive to UVA irradiation compared to the pterygium fibroblasts.

CONCLUSIONS: UVA stimulated the production of uPA, a key factor in the modulation of extracellular matrixes, inflammatory processes, and angiogenesis. This may have a role in the development and progression of pterygium.

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