Ex vivo porcine iris stiffening due to drug stimulation

Julie E. Whitcomb, Vincent A. Barnett, Timothy W. Olsen, Victor H. Barocas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to quantify how the elastic modulus of the ex vivo iris changes following stimulation by pilocarpine (PILO), phenylephrine (PE), and tropicamide (TROP). Irides (n = 20) were dissected from porcine eyes within 4 h post-mortem and tested uniaxially. Either the entire iris or sector thereof was used. The samples were stretched up to 40% Green strain. The radial modulus was calculated from the linear portion of the stress-strain curve, and the azimuthal modulus was fitted to a model treating the iris as a collection of circular elastic bands. One of the three drugs (n = 6 or 7) of interest was added (80 μg/ml) to the bath surrounding the tissue, and the test was repeated. Changes in pupil diameter of free-floating samples and isometric force of mounted samples confirmed that the tissue was responsive to the drugs. The untreated iris modulus for cut sections in radial extension was 4.0 ± 0.9 kPa (mean ± s.d., n = 20), and treated iris modulus was 7.7 ± 2.0 kPa (PILO, n = 7), 6.9 ± 2.2 kPa (PE, n = 6), and 8.4 ± 1.7 kPa (TROP, n = 7). Intact irides (n = 10) gave similar trends but values approximately 25% higher, presumably due to support from the nominally unloaded tissue. The azimuthal modulus of the untreated iris was 2.97 ± 1.3 kPa (n = 5), and that of the treated iris (PILO) was 5.34 ± 2.1 kPa. Although PILO, PE, and TROP work by different mechanisms, all three had similar results - an increase of modulus by a factor of two. These results suggest that in most normal situations the iris remains compliant at all pupil diameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-461
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Eye Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health (EY015795), an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness (RPB), the Minnesota Medical Foundation, and the Minnesota Lions Macular Degeneration Center. The technical assistance of Sarah Duenwald and Tes Kebede is much appreciated and acknowledged.


  • angle-closure glaucoma
  • eye
  • modulus
  • phenylephrine
  • pigmentary glaucoma
  • pilocarpine


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