Reduction in Histone H3 Acetylation and Chromatin Remodeling in Corneas of Alloxan-Induced Diabetic Rats
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PURPOSE: To evaluate acetylation of histone H3, chromatin remodeling, nuclear size and shape, DNA ploidy, and distribution of nucleolus organizing regions (NORs) in corneal epithelial and stromal cells of diabetic and nondiabetic rats. METHODS: Diabetes was induced by a single intraperitoneal injection of alloxan. All diabetic rats (n = 20) included in the study had 4 weeks of moderate-to-severe hyperglycemia (plasma glucose levels >400 mg/dL). Acetylated histone H3 levels were quantified in corneal tissue using a colorimetric assay. Chromatin remodeling, nuclear sizes (area/perimeter) and shapes (circularity), and DNA ploidies were evaluated from Feulgen-stained tissue sections using video image analysis. Distributions of NORs were studied in tissue sections impregnated with silver ions. Ophthalmic clinical parameters, including corneal sensitivity, were investigated. Twenty nondiabetic rats were used as controls. RESULTS: Acetylation of histone H3 was reduced in the corneas of the diabetic rats. Nuclei in corneal epithelial cells of diabetic rats compacted chromatin, increased in size, modified their shapes, and elevated DNA ploidy. The only nuclear change observed in the corneal stromal cells of diabetic rats was chromatin decompaction. The size of the silver-stained NOR did not differ between the study samples. The corneal sensitivity in diabetic rats was 51.8% lower than that in nondiabetic rats. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study show that alloxan-induced diabetes altered the histone H3 acetylation pattern and compromised the chromatin supraorganization in corneal tissue/cells. Continued research is needed to understand the clinical and morphofunctional significance of changes in corneal cell nuclei of diabetic individuals.