The cornea is the most densely innervated tissue in humans. Peripheral corneal nerves regenerate follow injury. Our hypothesis is that VEGF is a critical determinant of corneal nerve regeneration after injury and that the signaling pathways which mediate neurogenesis are distinct from those which mediate angiogenesis.
Aim A will characterize the expression of VEGF and VEGF receptors and identify the receptors which mediate VEGF-dependent neurogenesis in vitro and in vivo.
Aim B will characterize effect of VEGF on the regeneration of nerves in 2 injury models, while Aim C will investigate the pathways responsible for these effects. We will analyze whether there exists a differential activation of VEGF mediated neurogenesis following different injuries.
Proper regeneration of corneal nerves after injury is needed to prevent the development of potentially blinding neurotrophic keratitis. This application will investigate a new role in corneal nerve regeneration for the well characterized VEGF signaling pathway in order to develop new techniques for promoting corneal repair.
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