Keratoconus (KC) is a progressive corneal disorder in which vision gradually deteriorates as a result of continuous conical protrusion and the consequent altered corneal curvature. While the majority of the literature focus on assessing the center of this diseased cornea, there is growing evidence of peripheral involvement in the disease process. Thus, we investigated the organization of collagen fibrils (CFs) and proteoglycans (PGs) in the periphery and center of KC corneal stroma. Three-dimensional transmission electron tomography on four KC corneas showed the degeneration of microfibrils within the CFs and disturbance in the attachment of the PGs. Within the KC corneas, the mean CF diameter of the central-anterior stroma was significantly (p ˂ 0.001) larger than the peripheral-anterior stroma. The interfibrillar distance of CF was significantly (p ˂ 0.001) smaller in the central stroma than in the peripheral stroma. PGs area and the density in the central KC stroma were larger than those in the peripheral stroma. Results of the current study revealed that in the pre- Descemet's membrane stroma of the periphery, the degenerated CFs and PGs constitute biomechanically weak lamellae which are prone to disorganization and this suggests that the peripheral stroma plays an important role in the pathogenicity of the KC cornea.
Alkanaan, Aljoharah; Barsotti, Robert J.; Kirat, Omar; Khan, Adnan; Almubrad, Turki; and Akhtar, Saeed, "Collagen Fibrils and Proteoglycans of Peripheral and Central Stroma of the Keratoconus Cornea - Ultrastructure and 3D Transmission Electron Tomography" (2019). PCOM Scholarly Papers. 2042.