Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Contacts Meet Corneas

Uncovering details of the cornea-infecting bacteria that can be delivered by contact lenses

21 July 2019

Contacts Meet Corneas

For those without 20/20 vision, contact lenses offer greater freedom than glasses. But there is a downside, the risk of infection as harmful bacteria, such as Enterobacteriaceae, are delivered via the lenses into the eye. These bacteria cause infection by first penetrating through the surface of the cornea, the epithelium, to reach its underlying tissue or stroma. Researchers investigate how by infecting human corneal epithelial cells in a dish with the Enterobacteriaceae, Serratia marcescens. Using a variety of techniques, including scanning electron microscopy of the infected corneal epithelial cells (pictured), they found S. marcescens (purple) caused shape changes, such as spherical blebs, in line with the rapid cell death they also detected. Mutating genes in S. marcescens to impair its secretion of bacterial toxins called cytolysins uncovered a series of proteins required to bring about corneal damage. With this model, researchers can now dig deeper into the pathology of these infections.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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