Lifting the Shroud off Corneal Nerves – Mohan Lab

Mohan Lab
UConn Health neuroscience researchers Paola Bargagna-Mohan and Royce Mohan (seated) (Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Photo)

Schwann cells ensheath the stromal axons of the cornea. But how these specialized glial cells are adapted to maintain corneal transparency is an important question because corneal refraction is an important aspect of vision. The research groups led by Drs. Paola Bargagna-Mohan and Royce Mohan have used a powerful approach to illuminate the genes expressed in these Schwann cells. Appearing in the online version of the Journal of Neuroscience Research they employed single cell RNA sequence analysis to unravel novel genes previously not known to be expressed in Schwann cells and druggable targets. This valuable information could potentially hold promise for the understanding nerve regeneration, pain and wound healing in the cornea.

Dustin Hayes, Chief, Science Communications Branch, National Eye Institute of NIH recognized Paola Bargagna-Mohan, for “detailing a method for characterizing every cell in the cornea using single-cell RNA sequence analysis. She and collaborators are the first to isolate and characterize corneal Schwann cells, which are unique because they lack myelin—an adaptation to retain corneal transparency. The findings could improve understanding of corneal nerve function as it relates to dry eye, corneal transplant, and  LASIK complications.”

Read more about this study in an article published in the UConn Today, November 20, 2020, “Unique Schwann Cells:  The Eyes have it.”

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