Correlation between NGF/TrkA and microvascular density in human pterygium

Domenico Ribatti, Beatrice Nico, Maria Teresa Perra, Cristina Maxia, Franca Piras, Daniela Murtas, Enrico Crivellato, Paola Sirigu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pterygium is a surface ocular lesion that is associated with chronic UV exposure. The primary effect is a solar actinic elastosis within the stroma. All the other changes are secondary. Pterygium is characterized by proliferation, inflammatory infiltrates, fibrosis, angiogenesis and extracellular matrix breakdown. The aim of this study was to correlate microvascular density and nerve growth factor (NGF)/NGF-receptor transmembrane tyrosine kinase (TrkA) expression in endothelial cells in human pterygium. Specimens of human pterygium obtained from 30 patients who had undergone surgical excision and of 10 normal bulbar conjunctiva were investigated immunohistochemically by using anti-CD31, anti-NGF and anti-TrkA antibodies. Results showed that endothelial cells in human pterygium are immunoreactive to both NGF and its receptor TrkA, and that this immunoreactivity is correlated to microvascular density. The results of this study suggest that an autocrine loop between NGF and its receptor TrkA is activated in pterygium and that it is involved in the angiogenic response taking place in this pathological condition. These data are in accord with recent evidences, which have clearly established that NGF plays a role as an angiogenic factor in several pathological conditions. Understanding the mechanism of angiogenesis in pterygium provides a basis for a rational approach to the development of anti-angiogenic therapy in patients affected by this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)615-620
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Experimental Pathology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Angiogenesis
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Pterygium
  • TrkA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology


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