Inhibitory effects of trehalose on fibroblast proliferation and implications for ocular surgery

Kimio Takeuchi, Mitsuru Nakazawa, Yuichi Ebina, Kota Sato, Tomomi Metoki, Yasuhiro Miyagawa, Tadashi Ito

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Trehalose is a disaccharide which plays an important role in preserving cells from completely dehydrated circumstances. In this study, we investigated effects of trehalose on proliferative activity of fibroblasts and epithelial cells both in vitro and in vivo. As in vitro assessment, normal human dermal fibroblasts and normal human epidermal keratinocytes were cultured in media containing various concentrations of trehalose. Growth activities of cells were evaluated with MTT assay and diff-quick™ staining. Expressions of vimentin and α smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) changed by trehalose were semiquantitatively measured by Western blot. As an in vivo study, 5% or 10% trehalose was topically instilled onto rabbit eyes after simple conjunctival incision or trabeculectomy. Condition of the surgical wound was evaluated by morphologically and immunohistochemically using isolectin B4 and antibodies specific for vimentin and α-SMA. Intraocular pressures (IOPs) after trabeculectomy were compared between eyes treated with trehalose and 0.04% mitomycin C (MMC). Results obtained by in vitro experiments showed that growth activities of cultured fibroblasts and keratinocytes were inhibited by trehalose in a dose-dependent manner. Fibroblasts were strongly inhibited by trehalose concentrations ≧ 5% of trehalose, whereas keratinocytes were less inhibited compared to fibroblasts. Expressions of vimentin and α-SMA were reduced by trehalose. With in vivo experiments, postoperative application of trehalose resulted in less firm adhesion between conjunctiva and sclera compared to controls. Immunohistochemical studies showed reduced staining of isolectin B4, vimentin and α-SMA in conjunctival wounds treated by topical trehalose. Also, after trabeculectomy, IOP remained in a low range during instillation of topical trehalose solution. We concluded that trehalose has inhibitory effects on proliferation of fibroblasts and vascular tissues, partially due to inhibition of transformation of fibroblasts into myofibroblasts in wound tissues. The present results imply that trehalose can be a potential agent for preventing postoperative fibrous scar formation after ocular surgery such as glaucoma filtration surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-577
Number of pages11
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Nov


  • Conjunctiva
  • Fibroblast
  • Glaucoma
  • Scar
  • Surgery
  • Trabeculectomy
  • Trehalose


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