To investigate the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-C and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR)3 in the trabecular meshwork (TM) of patients with glaucoma and cultured TM cells. The expressions of VEGF-C in angle tissues collected by trabeculectomy from patients with glaucoma and non-glaucomatous choroidal malignant melanoma were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. Additionally, VEGF-C concentrations were determined in the aqueous humor of patients with glaucoma by ELISA. The expressions of VEGFR3, which is a receptor of VEGF-C in cultured TM cells, were analyzed by Western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry. Cultured TM cells were stimulated by oxidative stress, hypoxia, or high glucose conditions, and VEGF-C concentrations in supernatants and cell lysates were determined by ELISA. VEGF-C immunoreactivity was positive in TM tissues of glaucoma patients, but not in those of non-glaucomatous controls. VEGF-C concentrations in the aqueous humor of patients with neovascular glaucoma and primary open-angle glaucoma were lower than those with non-glaucoma patients. VEGFR3 was expressed in cultured TM cells. VEGF-C concentrations in supernatants or cell lysates of TM cells cultured under oxidative stress and hypoxia were significantly elevated compared with those under steady conditions ( < 0.05). VEGF-C concentrations in supernatants and cell lysates of TM cells cultured in high glucose were significantly higher than those in low glucose ( < 0.01). VEGF-C was expressed in TM tissues of patients with glaucoma, which was secreted from cultured TM cells under various pathological conditions. These results suggest that VEGF-C may be involved in the pathology of glaucoma.
Laboratory of Ocular Cell Biology and Visual Science, Department of Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine and Graduate School of Medicine, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-8638, Hokkaido, Japan.