Pathophysiology of aniridia-associated keratopathy: developmental aspects and unanswered questions

Lorenz Latta* (Corresponding Author), F. C. Figueiredo, R. Ashery-Padan, Jon Collinson, J. Daniels, Stefano Ferrari, N. Szentmáry, S. Solá, R. Shalom-Feuerstein, M. Lako, S. Xapelli, D. Aberdam* (Corresponding Author), N. Lagali* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aniridia, a rare congenital disease, is often characterized by a progressive, pronounced limbal insufficiency and ocular surface pathology termed aniridia- associated keratopathy (AAK). Due to the characteristics of AAK and its bilateral nature, clinical management is challenging and complicated by the multiple coexisting ocular and systemic morbidities in aniridia. Although it is primarily assumed that AAK originates from a congenital limbal stem cell deficiency, in recent years AAK and its pathogenesis has been questioned in the light of new evidence and a refined understanding of ocular development and the biology of limbal stem cells (LSCs) and their niche. Here, by consolidating and comparing the latest clinical and preclinical evidence, we discuss key unanswered questions regarding ocular developmental aspects crucial to AAK. We also highlight hypotheses on the potential role of LSCs and the ocular surface microenvironment in AAK. The insights thus gained lead to a greater appreciation for the role of developmental and cellular processes in the emergence of AAK. They also highlight areas for future research to enable a deeper understanding of aniridia, and thereby the potential to develop new treatments for this rare but blinding ocular surface disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Ocular Surface
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • aniridia-associated keratopathy (AAK)
  • PAX6
  • Anterior chamber
  • development
  • limbal stem cells (LSC)
  • Aniridia
  • aniridia animal and cellular models
  • Clinical Research
  • research strategies
  • limbal niche

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