Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Biomechanical changes to Descemet's membrane precede endothelial cell loss in an early-onset murine model of Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy


Early-onset Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) has been associated with nonsynonymous mutations in collagen VIII α2 (COL8A2), a key extracellular matrix (ECM) protein in Descemet's membrane (DM). Two knock-in strains of mice have been generated to each express a mutant COL8A2 protein (Col8a2L450W/L450W and Col8a2Q455K/Q455K) that recapitulate the clinical phenotype of early-onset FECD including endothelial cell loss, cellular polymegathism and pleomorphism, and guttae. Due to abnormalities in ECM protein composition and structure in FECD, the stiffness of DM in Col8a2 knock-in mice and wildtype (WT) controls was measured using atomic force microscopy at 5 and 10 months of age, coinciding with the onset of FECD phenotypic abnormalities. At 5 months, only sporadic guttae were identified via in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) in Col8a2Q455K/Q455K mice, otherwise both strains of Col8a2 transgenic mice were indistinguishable from WT controls in terms of endothelial cell density and size. By 10 months of age, Col8a2L450W/L450W and Col8a2Q455K/Q455K mice developed reduced corneal endothelial density, increased endothelial cell area and guttae, with the Col8a2Q455K/Q455K strain exhibiting a more severe phenotype. However, at 5 months of age, prior to the development endothelial cell abnormalities, Col8a2L450W/L450W and Col8a2Q455K/Q455K mice knock-in mice had reduced tissue stiffness of DM that was statistically significant in the Col8a2Q455K/Q455K mice when compared with wildtype controls. These data indicate that alterations in the tissue compliance of DM precede phenotypic changes in endothelial cell count and morphology, and may play a role in onset and progression of FECD.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View