Angiogenesis and inflammatory mediators are critical pathogenic factors in herpetic stromal keratitis (HSK). Since disease progresses without infectious virus, HSV-DNA and HSV-IgG complexes (HSV-IC) may contribute to HSK by triggering these factors. Production of VEGF and MMP-9 was studied in vitro using corneal epithelial cells (HCE), fibroblasts (HCRF) and macrophages (THP-1). VEGF was elevated in HCRF and THP-1 following treatment with HSV-DNA and HSV-IC. MMP-9 was elevated in THP-1 but not in corneal cells. When anti-HSV-IgG(Fab')2 complexes stimulated THP-1, MMP-9 was reduced to control levels. Pretreatment of THP-1 with anti-TLR-2 and -3 inhibited MMP-9 production. Thus, HSV-IC may stimulate THP-1 through the Fc receptor and TLRs. Proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1b, IL-6, and TNF-α) increased VEGF and MMP-9 in corneal cells and macrophages. These studies indicate that the continued presence of HSV-DNA and HSV-IC contribute to angiogenesis and inflammation in HSK. Thus, cytokines and TLRs may be potential targets for intervention.
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