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  • Comprehensive Ophthalmology

    This study demonstrates for the first time elevated nestin expression in pterygia and indicates that this protein may play a central role in the angiogenic response that characterizes this disease. Targeting nestin pharmacologically could be considered an alternative or adjuvant therapeutic strategy.

    Nestin is a class VI intermediate filament protein expressed in neuroepithelium with an emerging role in angiogenesis and tumorigenesis. Given the tumor-like and angiogenic features of pterygia, the authors postulated that nestin partakes in their development.

    They used immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence to section and stain formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded pterygia and donor-matched conjunctiva for nestin.

    Pterygium epithelial cells and blood vessels showed significantly higher nestin expression compared with matched normal conjunctiva. Also, a high proportion of the pterygium specimens displayed nuclear staining for nestin within the basal and suprabasal epithelium. Blood and lymphatic vessel density was also significantly higher in pterygia compared with corresponding control conjunctiva.

    The authors conclude that future research should be aimed at a more in-depth dissection of the mechanism by which nestin functions within pterygia as this could lead to alternative therapies that restrict pterygium growth and development.