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Detection of TSG-6-like protein in human corneal epithelium. Simultaneous presence with CD44 and hyaluronic acid.

  • Lardner, E1
  • van Setten, G-B2
  • 1 Dept. of Clincial Neuro Sciences, St. Eriks Eye Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. , (Sweden)
  • 2 Dept. of Clincial Neuro Sciences, St. Eriks Eye Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Institute of Wound Research & Dept of Ophthalmology, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]. , (Sweden)
Published Article
Journal francais d'ophtalmologie
Publication Date
Nov 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.jfo.2020.03.005
PMID: 32829938


Tumor necrosis factor-inducible gene 6 protein (TSG-6) is member of the hyaluronan-binding protein family (hyaladherins) to which CD44 also belongs. Inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1 (IL-1) stimulate TSG-6 production. Recently, however, externally applied TSG-6 has been shown to be effective in the treatment of inflammatory dry eye. On the other hand, it is still unknown whether TSG-6 is naturally present in human corneal epithelium. Corneal sections of 15 eyes enucleated for posterior segment uveal melanoma were immunohistochemically stained for hyaluronic acid (HA), CD44, and TSG-6. Throughout the corneal epithelium of all sections, CD44 and hyaluronic acid were detected most intensely in the basal epithelial layer. Whereas the presence of HA was intense even in the cytoplasm of the cells, CD44 was located predominantly at the cell membranes. The intensity of the specific staining decreased towards the surface, where CD44 was barely detectable. Hyaluronic acid was, on the other hand, detectable in the extracellular matrix and cells, even at the surface. TSG-6 like immunoreactivity was detected in all sections in a pattern similar to CD44 but much more distinct and intense, with a marked localization in the cell membranes and intercellular spaces, i.e., extracellular matrix. TSG-6 like immunoreactivity was clearly detectable through all cell layers of the corneal epithelium. All control sections were negative. Tumor necrosis factor-inducible gene 6 (TSG-6)- like protein is present in human corneal epithelium. It might be a natural component of this tissue which is constantly exposed and mechanically traumatized, and displays localization with similarities to that of CD44. The immunohistological detection of HA as major component of the ECM and epithelial tissue only confirms the results of earlier studies. However, the simultaneous presence and colocalization of CD44 and TSG-6, both HA-binding proteins, requires further investigation of the individual role, regulation and interaction of this system. The detection of TSG-6 in human corneal epithelium in the absence of inflammation underlines the importance of normal mechanical forces on the gene expression and regulation of this protein in ocular surface tissues. Given the relationship between inflammation and the protein, TSG-6 may be a major unknown and underestimated player in the regulation of the inflammation encountered in the presence of ocular surface desiccation and dry eye disease. Copyright © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.. All rights reserved.

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