The role of sensory innervation in cornea-lens regeneration

Kimberly J. Perry, Paul W. Hamilton, Surabhi Sonam, Ratnakar Singh, Jonathan J. Henry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Numerous sensory nerves in the cornea contribute to normal tissue homeostasis. Interestingly, cells within the basal corneal epithelium can regenerate new lenses in the frog, Xenopus. In this study, we investigated whether cornea sensory nerves or their neuropeptides are important for supporting cornea-lens regeneration. Results: Attempts to sever the trigeminal nerve trunk, which provides sensory nerve branches to the cornea, did not inhibit lens regeneration. However, using this approach we found that it was not possible to completely disrupt sensory innervation, as these nerves are able to quickly regenerate back to the cornea. On the other hand, attenuation of neuropeptide levels with capsaicin was found to significantly inhibit lens regeneration, as visualized by a reduction of Substance P. These treatments also led to a reduction of cornea sensory innervation. Interestingly, inhibition of the Substance P-preferred receptor NK-1 with Spantide II did not affect lens-regeneration rates. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that cornea nerves support cornea-lens regeneration, which could occur through the release of various neurotrophic factors. Substance P, however, does not appear to be the critical component of this signaling pathway. Further studies are needed to investigate what role other known neurotrophic factors may play in this process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)530-544
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Substance P
  • Xenopus
  • capsaicin
  • cornea
  • denervation
  • lens regeneration
  • nociceptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of sensory innervation in cornea-lens regeneration'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this