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Swelling studies on the cornea and sclera: The effects of pH and ionic strength

Huang, Yifei and Meek, Keith Michael Andrew 1999. Swelling studies on the cornea and sclera: The effects of pH and ionic strength. Biophysical Journal 77 (3) , pp. 1655-1665. 10.1016/S0006-3495(99)77013-X

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Abstract

The biophysical properties of the cornea and sclera depend on the precise maintenance of tissue hydration. We have studied the swelling of the tissues as a function of pH and ionic strength of the bathing medium, using an equilibration technique that prevents the loss of proteoglycans during swelling. Synchrotron x-ray diffraction was used to measure the average intermolecular and interfibrillar spacings, the fibril diameters, and the collagen D-periodicity. We found that both tissues swelled least near pH 4, that higher hydrations were achieved at lower ionic strengths, and that sclera swelled about one-third as much as cornea under most conditions. In the corneal stroma, the interfibrillar spacing increased most with hydration at pH values near 7. Fibril diameters and D-periodicity were independent of tissue hydration and pH at hydrations above 1. Intermolecular spacings in both tissues decreased as the ionic strength was increased, and there was a significant difference between cornea and sclera. Finally, we observed that corneas swollen near pH 7 transmitted significantly more light than those swollen at lower pH levels. The results indicate that the isoelectric points of both tissues are close to pH 4. The effects of ionic strength can be explained in terms of chloride binding within the tissues. The higher light transmission achieved in corneas swollen at neutral pH may be related to the fact that the interfibrillar fluid is more evenly distributed under these conditions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Optometry and Vision Sciences
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Publisher: Biophysical Society
ISSN: 0006-3495
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:48
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/44981

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