Fibrotic posterior capsular opacification (PCO), a major complication of cataract surgery, is driven by transforming growth factor–β (TGF-β). Previously, αV integrins were found to be critical for the onset of TGF-β–mediated PCO in vivo; however, the functional heterodimer was unknown. Here, β8 integrin–conditional knockout (β8ITG-cKO) lens epithelial cells (LCs) attenuated their fibrotic responses, while both β5 and β6 integrin–null LCs underwent fibrotic changes similar to WT at 5 days post cataract surgery (PCS). RNA-Seq revealed that β8ITG-cKO LCs attenuated their upregulation of integrins and their ligands, as well as known targets of TGF-β–induced signaling, at 24 hours PCS. Treatment of β8ITG-cKO eyes with active TGF-β1 at the time of surgery rescued the fibrotic response. Treatment of WT mice with an anti-αVβ8 integrin function blocking antibody at the time of surgery ameliorated both canonical TGF-β signaling and LC fibrotic response PCS, and treatment at 5 days PCS, after surgically induced fibrotic responses were established, largely reversed this fibrotic response. These data suggest that αVβ8 integrin is a major regulator of TGF-β activation by LCs PCS and that therapeutics targeting αVβ8 integrin could be effective for fibrotic PCO prevention and treatment.


Mahbubul H. Shihan, Samuel G. Novo, Yan Wang, Dean Sheppard, Amha Atakilit, Thomas D. Arnold, Nicole M. Rossi, Adam P. Faranda, Melinda K. Duncan


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