Immunolocalization of cannabinoid receptor type 1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors, and transient receptor potential vanilloid channels in pterygium
- Martha Assimakopoulou
- Dionysios Pagoulatos
- Pinelopi Nterma
- Nikolaos Pharmakakis
Published online on: August 14, 2017
Copyright: © Assimakopoulou et al.
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution License.
Cannabinoids, as multi‑target mediators, activate cannabinoid receptors and transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) channels. There is evidence to support a functional interaction of cannabinoid receptors and TRPV channels when they are coexpressed. Human conjunctiva demonstrates widespread cannabinoid receptor type 1 (CB1), CB2 and TRPV channel localization. The aim of the present study was to investigate the expression profile for cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) and TRPV channels in pterygium, an ocular surface lesion originating from the conjunctiva. Semi‑serial paraffin‑embedded sections from primary and recurrent pterygium samples were immunohistochemically examined with the use of specific antibodies. All of the epithelial layers in 94, 78, 96, 73 and 80% of pterygia cases, exhibited CB1, CB2, TRPV1, TRPV2 and TRPV3 cytoplasmic immunoreactivity, respectively. The epithelium of all pterygia cases (100%) showed strong, mainly nuclear, TRPV4 immunolocalization. In the pterygium stroma, scattered cells demonstrated intense CB2 immunoreactivity, whereas vascular endothelial cells were immunopositive for the cannabinoid receptors and all TRPV channels. Quantitative analyses of the immunohistochemical findings in epithelial cells demonstrated a significantly higher expression level in conjunctiva compared with primary pterygia (P=0.04) for CB1, but not for CB2 (P>0.05). Additionally, CB1 and CB2 were significantly highly expressed in primary pterygia (P=0.01), compared with recurrent pterygia. Furthermore, CB1 expression levels were significantly correlated with CB2 expression levels in primary pterygia (P=0.005), but not in recurrent pterygia (P>0.05). No significant difference was detected for all TRPV channel expression levels between pterygium (primary or recurrent) and conjunctival tissues (P>0.05). A significant correlation between the TRPV1 and TRPV3 expression levels (P<0.001) was detected independently of pterygium recurrence. Finally, TRPV channel expression was identified to be significantly higher than the expression level of cannabinoid receptors in the pterygium samples (P<0.001). The differentiated expression of cannabinoid receptors in combination with the presence of TRPV channels, in primary and recurrent pterygia, imply a potential role of these cannabinoid targets in the underlying mechanisms of pterygium.