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Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(4):437-448. doi:10.7150/ijbs.23946

Research Paper

CTGF Contributes to the Development of Posterior Capsule Opacification: an in vitro and in vivo study

Bo Ma1*, Ruihua Jing1*, Jie Liu1, Lan Yang2, Jingming Li1, Li Qin1, Lijun Cui1, Cheng Pei1✉

1. Department of Ophthalmology, First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.
2. Ningbo Medical Center Lihuili Eastern Hospital, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China.
*Co-first authors


Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) is a crucial factor that plays a major role in the process of posterior capsule opacification (PCO). However, the effects of CTGF on the proliferation and migration of lens epithelial cells (LECs) and on the mechanism of the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) and extracellular matrix (ECM) in human lens epithelial cells (HLECs) as well as the effects of shRNA-mediated CTGF knockdown on the development of PCO in rats remain unclear. In the present study, we found that CTGF promoted EMT, proliferation, migration and the expression of p-ERK1/2 protein in HLECs but exerted little effect on the expression of p-p38 and p-JNK1/2 proteins. MEK inhibitor U0126 effectively restrained the CTGF-induced expression of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), fibronectin (Fn) and type I collagen (COL-1) in HLECs. CTGF knockdown effectively postponed the onset of PCO in the rats and significantly reduced the expression of α-SMA in the capsule. In conclusion, CTGF contributed to the development of PCO presumably by promoting proliferation, migration of LECs, EMT specific protein expression and ECM synthesis in HLECs, which is dependent on ERK signalling. Furthermore, blocking CTGF effectively inhibited PCO in the rats and the EMT specific protein expression in the lens capsule.

Keywords: CTGF, Posterior Capsule Opacification, Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition, Extracellular Matrix, ERK signalling

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Ma B, Jing R, Liu J, Yang L, Li J, Qin L, Cui L, Pei C. CTGF Contributes to the Development of Posterior Capsule Opacification: an in vitro and in vivo study. Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(4):437-448. doi:10.7150/ijbs.23946. Available from