Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 59 - 64 (2003)
© UPV/EHU Press

Disruption of eyelid and cornea development by targeted overexpression of the glucocorticoid receptor.

José Luis Cascallana, Ana Bravo, Angustias Page, Irina Budunova, Thomas J Slaga, José L Jorcano and Paloma Pérez

Department of Animal Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Santiago de Compostela, Lugo, Spain.

ABSTRACT Glucocorticoid hormones act through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and they affect almost all physiological systems in the organism. We have previously reported that transgenic mice overexpressing GR under the control of the keratin k5 promoter (K5-GR mice) display severe phenotypic alterations in the epidermis and other ectoderm derivatives (Perez et al., 2001). In this work, we aimed to characterize the pathological consequences of GR targeted overexpression in the eyelid and cornea at late developmental stages. Despite glucocorticoids being widely prescribed as a topical treatment in ophthalmology, their potential role during ocular development in the embryo is not well understood. As shown by scanning electron microscopy analysis as well as by our histopathological and immunohistochemical data, long-term and newborn transgenic embryos showed unfused eyelids, along with proptosis of the globe and exposure of the anterior surface. In addition, epithelial defects were evident at the cornea. Our results indicate that GR overexpression affected the proliferation rate of targeted epithelia of the cornea and eyelid, thus demonstrating that GR was responsible for the arrest of epithelial proliferation of the developing eyelid edges, as well as for their destruction. We conclude that constitutive targeted overexpression of GR in the eyelid and corneal epithelium dramatically impairs ocular function in these transgenic mice.