PNP Hydrogel Prevents Formation of Symblephara in Mice After Ocular Alkali Injury

Aditi Swarup, Abigail K. Grosskopf, Lindsay M. Stapleton, Varun R. Subramaniam, Baoxiang Li, Irving L. Weissman, Eric A. Appel, Albert Y. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: To create an alkali injury symblephara mouse model to study conjunctival fibrosis pathophysiology and test polymer nanoparticle (PNP) hydrogel as a preventative therapeutic. Methods: Mice were injured using NaOH-soaked filter paper to determine the optimal NaOH concentration to induce the formation of symblephara. Injured mice were observed for 7 days to detect the formation of symblephara. Forniceal shortening observed on hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained tissue sections was used as a symble-phara marker. Alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, Masson’s trichrome assay, and periodic acid–Schiff (PAS) staining were used to determine myofibroblast expression, collagen deposition, and goblet cell integrity. PNP hydrogel, with multiva-lent, noncovalent interactions between modified biopolymers and nanoparticles, was applied immediately after alkali injury to determine its ability to prevent the formation of symblephara. Results: Forniceal shortening was observed in H&E images with 1N NaOH for 2 minutes after 7 days without globe destruction. PNP hydrogel prevented forniceal shortening after alkali injury as observed by H&E histology. α-SMA expression and collagen deposition in eye tissue sections were increased in the fornix after injury with 1N NaOH compared with uninjured controls. PNP hydrogel treatment immediately after injury reduced α-SMA expression and collagen deposition in the forniceal region. Mucin-secreting goblet cells stained with PAS were significantly lower in alkali-injured and PNP hydrogel–treated conjunctivas than in uninjured control conjunctivas. Conclusions: We observed that 1N NaOH for 2 minutes induced maximal forniceal shortening and symblephara in mice. PNP hydrogel prevented forniceal shortening and conjunctival fibrosis after injury. This first murine model for symblephara will be useful to study fibrosis pathophysiology after conjunctival injury and to determine therapeutic targets for cicatrizing diseases. Translational Relevance: This mouse model of symblephara can be useful for studying conjunctival scarring disease pathophysiology and preventative therapeutics. We tested PNP hydrogel, which prevented the formation of symblephara after injury.

Original languageEnglish
Article number31
JournalTranslational Vision Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Conjunctival fibrosis
  • Hydrogel
  • Symblephara


Dive into the research topics of 'PNP Hydrogel Prevents Formation of Symblephara in Mice After Ocular Alkali Injury'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this