• Users Online: 1966
  • Home
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

   Table of Contents      
Year : 1996  |  Volume : 44  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-18

Changes in the corneal Na-K ATPase levels in eyes stored in moist chamber at 4C

Department of Ophthalmology, University of Toronto, 1 Spadina Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2K6, Canada, USA

Correspondence Address:
B Devi
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Toronto, 1 Spadina Crescent, Toronto, Ontario M5S 2K6, Canada
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 8828300

Rights and PermissionsRights and Permissions

This report deals with a chronological measurement of Na-K ATPase enzyme activity in human and bovine corneas stored in a moist chamber at 4C. Paired human and bovine eyes were sterilized by the standard eye bank procedure and stored up to 6 days. At the desired time, the corneal endothelium was assayed for Na-K ATPase activity. The protein content of each tissue sample was also determined. In a parallel set of experiments, the viability of identical stored corneas was determined by trypan blue and alizarin red staining technique, and morphometric analysis was done to quantify the extent of the corneal endothelial damage. The human corneas showed that there was a significant progressive decrease in the Na-K ATPase activity as the storage time increased. The decrease was related to morphological endothelial damage.

Keywords: Cornea, endothelium, epithelium, storage, moist chamber, eye bank, Na-K ATPase activity.

How to cite this article:
Devi B, Hasany S M, Basu P K. Changes in the corneal Na-K ATPase levels in eyes stored in moist chamber at 4C. Indian J Ophthalmol 1996;44:15-8

How to cite this URL:
Devi B, Hasany S M, Basu P K. Changes in the corneal Na-K ATPase levels in eyes stored in moist chamber at 4C. Indian J Ophthalmol [serial online] 1996 [cited 2023 Sep 25];44:15-8. Available from: https://journals.lww.com/ijo/pages/default.aspx/text.asp?1996/44/1/15/24599


Click here to view

Click here to view
One important role of the corneal endothelium is to maintain the proper hydration of the cornea which is essential for keeping its transparency.[1] The endothelial cell layer has an Na-K dependent cation pump which regulates the flow of electrolytes and water from the anterior chamber into the corneal stroma.[2] The corneal endothelial pump is largely mediated by an active transport of sodium[3] as well as bicarbonate[4] ions across the cell layer.

Both Na-K and bicarbonate dependent ATPase enzymes have been demonstrated biochemically[5],[6] and histochemically[7] in the corneal endothelial cells. The exact location of the bicarbonate dependent enzyme is not completely known but there is substantial evidence that this enzyme is of mitochondria] origin.[8] On the other hand, the Na-K dependent ATPase, which plays a major role in controlling the corneal swelling, is located on the plasma membrane.[9],[10]

The cornea shows a rapid increase in hydration, and a prompt loss of glycogen and ATP immediately after the death of the donor and during storage of the cornea.[11] A decrease of the Na-K dependent ATPase enzyme in a dysfunctional endothelium has also been related to some diseases of the cornea[12] and to aging.[13]

We hypothesized that the level of the Na-K dependent ATPase in the endothelium of the stored cornea would be related to the functional status of the endothelium. To our knowledge, the level of the Na-K dependent ATPase has not been studied chronologically in the endothelium of corneas stored in mosit chamber. We, therefore, wished to determine the level of the Na-K dependent ATPase in the corneal endothelium of stored human eyes, and relatively fresh bovine eyes. We also tried to correlate the intensity of the endothelial enzyme activity with the viability and integrity of the endothelium.


Human Donor Eyes

Paired human eyes were obtained from the Eye Bank of Canada (Ontario Division). On the average, the eyes were enucleated within 4 hours of donor's death. Each pair of eyes (n = 3) was subjected to the routine eye bank procedure and stored for 1, 2, 4, and 5 days at 4C in the moist chamber.

  Bovine Eyes Top

A certain amount of unavoidable delay inevitably had occurred before experiments could be started on the human donor eyes. This was due to the variation in the time lapsing between the death of the donor and the enucleation of eyes, and between the enucleation and the processing of the eyes in the laboratory. In order to reduce the effect of the delay as much as possible, we used fresh paired bovine eyes. This gave us an opportunity to compare the enzyme levels in relatively fresh bovine corneas with that in the stored human corneas.

Paired bovine eyes were collected from the slaughter house immediately after the death of the animal. Eyes were kept on ice and were brought to the laboratory at 4C within 2 hours. Each pair of eyes was washed with normal saline and then treated by the method used for human eyes. One eye (control) of each animal was processed immediately, and the other eye (experimental) was stored in the moist chamber for 2, 4, 5 or 6 days at 4C. Four pairs of eyes were used for each day.

  Preparation of the Tissue Sample Top

At the desired time, the epithelium and endothelium of the cornea, which was kept on ice, were scraped separately with a surgical blade. Because of the small quantity of endothelium obtainable from a single human cornea, the tissues from both eyes were pooled. The endothelium of the bovine eyes was not pooled and was kept individually.

The endothelial cell preparations contained pieces of Descemet's membrane. As many pieces as possible of the Descemet's membrane were removed with fine forceps from the cellular suspension.

The endothelial sample was centrifuged twice at 3000 rpm for 5 minutes in cold Tris buffer pH 7.5. (Sorvall GLC -1 Newton, CT). The sediment (tissue sample) was then resuspended in the cold double distilled water and recentrifuged. The pellet was suspended in cold water, and sonicated at 4C for one minute with a sonicator (Kontes, Vineland, NJ). Each sonicate was then lypholized, and the dry weight of the sample was determined.

  Procedure for the Na-K ATPase Assay Top

For ATPase assay, the sample was reconstituted with ice-cold double distilled water. The reconstituent was adjusted to 8 mg (dry weight) tissue/ml. The Na-K dependent ATPase activity of each sample was determined by using the colorimetric assay technique of Bonting and co-workers[6] as modified by Neville et al.[14] The protein content of each sample was determined by the Lowry's method[15] using bovine serum albumin as the reference standard. The Na-K ATPase activity was calculated as the difference between the ATPase activity determined in the presence and that in the absence of 10[-4]M ouabain. The ATPase activity of the tissue homogenate was expressed in terms of phosphate level (nmol per mg protein per hour). The data was expressed as mean or percent of control and were analysed statistically by analysis of variance.

  Morphometric Analysis of the Corneal Endothelial Damage Top

In another set of parallel experiments, paired human donor eyes and bovine eyes were stored for 1, 2, 4, and 7 days. Three pairs of eyes were used for each day of storage. After each storage period, the cellular viability and integrity of the endothelium was tested by staining the tissue with trypan blue and alizarin red.[16]

The central region (5 mm in diameter) of the endothelium of the experimental ard control corneas was photographed using a Zeiss photomicroscope at a constant magnification. The four different areas of each photomicrograph of the endothelial surface of paired cornea were traced individually on a clear plastic sheet, and then were analysed by morphometry.[17]


Human Corneal Endothelium

[Figure - 1] shows that in the case of human corneal endothelium there was a significant decrease in the enzyme level (60%) after 2 days of storage. A progressive decrease of enzyme activity and of endothelial damage was evident from the 2nd day onward. When the daily data of endothelial ATPase activity were compared, it was found that datum of day 1 was significantly higher than that seen on days 2, 4 and 5 (P<0.01). It was seen that the enzyme activity progressively decreased as the storage time increased. Morphologically, the corneas showed progressively greater endothelial damage per unit area as the storage time was increased (P<0.05) (Table).

  Bovine Corneal Endothelium Top

The ATPase activity of the control and experimental bovine corneal endothelia were compared. When the results of the experimental samples were expressed as the percentage of the control values, the data [Figure - 2] indicated a pattern similar to what we saw in the case of the human endothelium. The enzyme activity in the bovine endothelium had a significantly sharp fall on the 4th day. It then rose slightly on the 5th day of storage. However, this rise was not statistically significant when analysed by analysis of variance. Morphologically, the endothelial damage progressively increased with the storage time (P<0.01). Thus the endothelium on the 4th day of storage were more damaged as compared with those stored for 1 to 3 days (Table).

  Human and Bovine Endothelium Top

There was a quantitative difference in the ATPase levels in the corneal layer between the two species. The bovine epithelium as compared to the human epithelium showed a greater amount of enzyme per unit weight of the tissue. However, neither of the species showed any significant change in the enzyme level at any time during 1 to 6 days of storage.

  Discussion Top

The moist chamber technique of storage of whole eye balls is still widely in use in places (e.g. Third World countries) where the storage of excised cornea in tissue culture medium is difficult for technical and economic reasons. Some Canadian eye banks appear to use moist chamber stored eyes, according to the quarterly reports of the Canadian Eye Banks[18]. In emergency and unusual situations, for example, during long distance transportation to our eye bank laboratories from far away places, this method is still used by the Eye Bank of Canada, Ontario Division.

During storage of the donor eyes in the moist chamber at 4C, there appeared to be two phases in the activity of the ouabain sensitive Na-K dependent ATPase in the corneal endothelium. The ATPase activity in the endothelium of the stored human cornea decreased after 1 to 2 days of eye storage (first phase). During the first phase, the cellular membrane appeared to be intact morphologically. In the second phase (after 2 days) the level of ATPase activity continued to drop. In this phase, this phenomenon was probably related to the breakdown of the cellular membrane transport system. It may be mentioned here that in another of our studies (unpublished data) we have seen electronmicroscopically evidence of mitochondrial swelling and membrane disorganization in the endothelium of the human cornea stored for 2 to 4 days. Similar phenomena have been noticed by others[19]. Recent studies on ouabain binding or unstored and stored cornea in tissue culture media did not show a change in Na-K ATPase pump site activity after four days of storage[20]. However, after 7 days of storage, thee was an elevated ATPase pump site activity of cornea stored in MK medium. This increase in activity was interpreted as the cornea was under stressed condition[20].

Our present study indicated a decrease of the level of endothelial ATPase in stored human as well as relatively fresh bovine corneas after 2 days of storage in moist chamber at 4C. Morphologically, the stored endothelium showed extensive cellular damage after 2 days of storage. We therefore recommend that corneas from human donor eyes should not be used for keratoplasty after 2 days of storage in moist chamber at 4C.

We now plan to compare the patterns of the enzyme activity in the endothelium of the excised cornea stored in vitro for different periods in various storage media containing different agents.

In contrast to the ATPase activity level in the endothelium, that in the corneal epithelium did not change significantly during any of the storage periods used in this study. We have no explanation of this phenomenon at present.


We are thankful to Mr. Terry Riopka of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Toronto, for help in our morphometric analysis, and to Professor A.K. Sen from the Department of Pharmacology, University of Toronto, for his suggestions.

  References Top

Maurice DM: The cornea and sclera. In The Eye, (ed) Davson H; 3rd ed Vol IB pp 79-84. Academic Press NY 1984.  Back to cited text no. 1
Riley MV: Transport of ions and metabolites across the corneal endothelium. In Cell Biology of the Eye, (ed) Medevitt DS; p 53. Academic Press NY 1982.  Back to cited text no. 2
Lim JJ: Na transport across the rabbit corneal endothelium. Curr Eye Res 1:255, 1981.  Back to cited text no. 3
Riley MV: Anion sensitive ATPase in rabbit corneal endothelium and its relation to corneal hydration. Exp Eye Res 25:483-494,1977.  Back to cited text no. 4
Riley MV and Peters MI : The localization of anion sensitive ATPase activity in corneal endothelium and its relation to bicarbonate transport. Biochem Biophys Acta 644:251-256,1981.  Back to cited text no. 5
Bonting SL, Simon KA and Hawkins NM: Studies on sodium potassium activated adenosine triphosphate. Arch Biochem & Biophys 95:416-423, 1961.  Back to cited text no. 6
Tervo T and Palkama A: Electron-microscopic localization of adenosine triphosphatase (Na-K-ATPase) activity in rat cornea. Exp Eye Res 21:269-279,1975.  Back to cited text no. 7
Van Amelsvoort JMM, de Pont JJHHM, Stolz ALH and Bonting LS: Is there a plasma membrane-located anion sensitive ATPase? II Further studies on rabbit kidney. Biochem Biophys Acta 471:78-91, 1977.  Back to cited text no. 8
Trenbeth SM, Mishima S: The effect of ouabain on rabbit corneal endothelium. Invest Ophthalmol 7:44-52, 1968.  Back to cited text no. 9
Geroski DH and Edelhauser HE: Quantification of Na-K ATPase pump site in the rabbit corneal endothelium. Invest Ophthal Vis Sci 25:1056-1060, 1984.  Back to cited text no. 10
Thoft RA and Friend J: Corneal epithelial changes during mid-term storage. Invest Ophthal Vis Sci 15:82-86,1976.  Back to cited text no. 11
McCartney MD, Wood TO and McLaughlin BJ: Immunohistochemical localization of ATPase in human dysfunctional corneal endothelium. Curr Eye Res 6:1479-1486,1987.  Back to cited text no. 12
O'Neal MR and Poise KA: Decreased endothelial pump function with aging. Invest Ophthal Vis Sci 27:457-468, 1986.  Back to cited text no. 13
Neville MC, Paterson CA and Hamilton PM: Evidence for two sodium pumps in the crystalline lens of the rabbit eye. Exp Eye Res 27:637-648, 1978.  Back to cited text no. 14
Lowry OHJ, Rosebrough NJ, Farr AL and Randall RJ: Protein measurement with folin phenol reagent. J Biol Chem 193:265-275,1951.  Back to cited text no. 15
Taylor MJ and Hunt CJ: Dual staining of corneal endothelium with trypan blue and alizarin red S: importance of pH for the dye-lake reaction. Br J Ophthalmol 65:815-819, 1981.  Back to cited text no. 16
Rootman DS, Hasany SM and Basu PK: A morphometric study of endothelial cells of human cornea stored in Na-K media and warmed to 37C. Br J Ophthalmol 72:545,1988.  Back to cited text no. 17
Canadian Eye Bank statistics; 2nd quarterly report (April-June 1990). British Columbia Lions Eye Bank, Vancouver BC 1990.  Back to cited text no. 18
Van Horn DL and Schultz RO: Ultrastructural changes in the endothelium of human cornea stored under eye bank conditions. In Corneal Preservation (ed) Capella JA, Edelhauser HF and Van Horn DL, pp 29-38. Charles C. Thomas 1973.  Back to cited text no. 19
McDermott ML, Watsky MA, Geroski DH and Edelhauser HF: Human corneal storage in modified McCary-Kaufman and K-Sol media: Effect on endothelial Na-K ATPase pump site density and permeability. Cornea 10:44, 1991.  Back to cited text no. 20


  [Figure - 1], [Figure - 2]

  [Table - 1]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  MATERIALS AND ME...Preparation of t...Procedure for th...Morphometric Ana...RESULTS

Bovine Corneal E...Human and Bov...
  In this article
Bovine Eyes
Article Figures
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded1    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal