The role of growth factors in the embryogenesis and differentiation of the eye

Authors

  • Professors Brenda J. Tripathi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
    2. Organismal Biology and Anatomy, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
    • Visual Sciences Center, University of Chicago, 939 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
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  • Professors Ramesh C. Tripathi,

    Corresponding author
    1. Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
    • Visual Sciences Center, University of Chicago, 939 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637
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  • Amit M. Livingston,

    1. Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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  • NavaneetS. C. Borisuth

    1. Departments of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, The University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
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Abstract

The vertebrate eye is composed of a variety of tissues that, embryonically, have their derivation from surface ectoderm, neural ectoderm, neural crest, and mesodermal mesenchyme. During development, these different types of cells are subjected to complex processes of induction and suppressive interactions that bring about their final differentiation and arrangement in the fully formed eye. With the changing concept of ocular development, we present a new perspective on the control of morphogenesis at the cellular and molecular levels by growth factors that include fibroblast growth factors, epidermal growth factor, nerve growth factor, plateletderived growth factor, transforming growth factors, mesodermal growth factors, transferrin, tumor necrosis factor, neuronotrophic factors, angiogenic factors, and antiangiogenic factors. Growth factors, especially transforming growth factor-β, have a crucial role in directing the migration and developmental patterns of the cranial neural-crest cells that contribute extensively to the structures of the eye. Some growth factors also exert an effect on the developing ocular tissues by influencing the synthesis and degradation of the extracellular matrix. The mRNAs for the growth factors that are involved in the earliest aspects of the growth and differentiation of the fertilized egg are supplied from maternal sources until embryonic tissues are able to synthesize them. Subsequently, the developing eye tissues are exposed to both endogenous and exogenous growth factors that are derived from nonocular tissues as well as from embryonic fluids and the systemic circulation. The early interaction between the surface head ectoderm and the underlying chordamesoderm confers a lens-forming bias on the ectoderm; later, the optic vesicle elicits the final phase of determination and enhances differentiation by the lens. After the blood–ocular barrier is established, the internal milieu of the eye is controlled by the interactions among the intraocular tissues; only those growth factors that selectively cross the barrier or that are synthesized by the ocular tissues can influence further development and differentiation of the cells. An understanding of the tissue interactions that are regulated by growth factors could clarify the precise mechanism of normal and abnormal ocular development.

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