Differences in localization of P2X7 during epithelial wound healing in pre-type II diabetic models
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Corneal injury, accompanied by improper wound repair, is the 4th highest cause of preventable blindness according to the World Health Organization. The cornea, which is the most densely innervated structure in the human body, serves to protect the delicate internal environment of the eye from damage. The integrity of this intricate nerve structure is critical in our ability to sense even the slightest insult to the corneal surface, with reduced sensitivity leading to increased susceptibility to trauma. In diabetes, decreased corneal sensitivity secondary to diabetic peripheral neuropathy can lead to increased corneal abrasion, ulceration, and even blindness. The P2X7 purinoreceptor is an ion channel that is expressed by the epithelium along with the intra-epithelial nerves and stromal nerves. The goal of our study was to use a type 2 diabetic mouse model (DIO) to characterize the changes in P2X7 localization and potentially correlate our results with changes in trafficking and sensory nerve loss. We hypothesized that the P2X7 receptor acts to sense changes at the leading edge and this fine tuned regulation is altered during the diabetic disease state. Further understanding of the corneal changes that occur in diabetes can help us better monitor progression of diabetic complications as well as develop new therapeutics for the treatment of diabetic corneal dysfunction.