Genetic dependence of central corneal thickness among inbred strains of mice.

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Cell-Count, Cornea, Corneal-Stroma, Epithelium-Corneal, Eye-Proteins, Gene-Expression, Gene-Expression-Profiling, Mice-Inbred-BALB-C, Mice-Inbred-C3H, Mice-Inbred-C57BL, Mice-Inbred-CBA, Mice-Inbred-DBA, Mice-Inbred-NZB, Mice-Inbred-Strains, Microscopy-Electron-Transmission, Oligonucleotide-Array-Sequence-Analysis, Quantitative-Trait-Heritable

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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2010 Jan; 51(1):160-71.


PURPOSE: Central corneal thickness (CCT) exhibits broad variability. For unknown reasons, CCT also associates with diseases not typically considered corneal, particularly glaucoma. The purpose of this study was to test the strain dependence of CCT variability among inbred mice and identify cellular and molecular factors associated with differing CCT. METHODS: Methodology for measuring murine CCT with ultrasound pachymetry was developed and used to measure CCT among 17 strains of mice. Corneas from three strains with nonoverlapping differences in CCT (C57BLKS/J, C57BL/6J, and SJL/J) were compared by histology, transmission electron microscopy, and expression profiling with gene microarrays. RESULTS: CCT in mice was highly strain dependent. CCT exhibited continuous variation from 89.2 microm in C57BLKS/J to 123.8 microm in SJL/J. Stromal thickness was the major determinant of the varying murine CCT, with epithelial thickness also contributing. Corneal expression levels of many genes differed between strains with differing CCT, but most of these changes did not correlate with the changes observed in previously studied corneal diseases nor did they correlate with genes encoding major structural proteins of the cornea. CONCLUSIONS: Murine CCT has been measured with a variety of different techniques, but only among a limited number of different strains. Here, pachymetry was established as an additional tool and used to conduct a broad survey of different strains of inbred mice. These results demonstrated that murine CCT was highly influenced by genetic background and established a baseline for future genetic approaches to further elucidate mechanisms regulating CCT and its disease associations.