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Neuroscience - Ophthalmology

Communication between Corneal Epithelial Cells and Trigeminal Neurons Is Facilitated by Purinergic (P2) and Glutamatergic Receptors
Published: Friday, September 07, 2012
Author: Duane J. Oswald et al.

by Duane J. Oswald, Albert Lee, Monique Trinidad, Cheryl Chi, Ruiyi Ren, Celeste B. Rich, Vickery Trinkaus-Randall

Previously, we demonstrated that nucleotides released upon mechanical injury to corneal epithelium activate purinergic (P2) receptors resulting in mobilization of a Ca2+ wave. However, the tissue is extensively innervated and communication between epithelium and neurons is critical and not well understood. Therefore, we developed a co-culture of primary trigeminal neurons and human corneal limbal epithelial cells. We demonstrated that trigeminal neurons expressed a repertoire of P2Yand P2X receptor transcripts and responded to P2 agonists in a concentration-dependent manner. Mechanical injuries to epithelia in the co-cultures elicited a Ca2+ wave that mobilized to neurons and was attenuated by Apyrase, an ectonucleotidase. To elucidate the role of factors released from each cell type, epithelial and neuronal cells were cultured, injured, and the wound media from one cell type was collected and added to the other cell type. Epithelial wound media generated a rapid Ca2+ mobilization in neuronal cells that was abrogated in the presence of Apyrase, while neuronal wound media elicited a complex response in epithelial cells. The rapid Ca2+ mobilization was detected, which was abrogated with Apyrase, but it was followed by Ca2+ waves that occurred in cell clusters. When neuronal wound media was preincubated with a cocktail of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor inhibitors, the secondary response in epithelia was diminished. Glutamate was detected in the neuronal wound media and epithelial expression of NMDA receptor subunit transcripts was demonstrated. Our results indicate that corneal epithelia and neurons communicate via purinergic and NMDA receptors that mediate the wound response in a highly orchestrated manner.