Exploring ocular fibulin-3 (EFEMP1): Anatomical, age-related, and species perspectives

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Fibulin-3 (FBLN3, aka EFEMP1) is a secreted extracellular matrix (ECM) glycoprotein implicated in ocular diseases including glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. Yet surprisingly, little is known about its native biology, expression patterns, and localization in the eye. To overcome these shortcomings, we conducted gene expression analysis and immunohistochemistry for FBLN3 in ocular tissues from mice, pigs, non-human primates, and humans. Moreover, we evaluated age-related changes in FBLN3 and FBLN3-related ECM remodeling enzymes/inhibitors in aging mice. We found that FBLN3 displayed distinct staining patterns consistent across the mouse retina, particularly in the ganglion cell layer and inner nuclear layer (INL). In contrast, human retinas exhibited a unique staining pattern, with enrichment of FBLN3 in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), INL, and outer nuclear layer (ONL) in the peripheral retina. This staining transitioned to the outer plexiform layer (OPL) in the central retina/macula, and was accompanied by reduced RPE immunoreactivity approaching the fovea. Surprisingly, we found significant age-related increases in FBLN3 expression and protein abundance in the mouse retina which was paralleled by reduced transcript levels of FBLN3-degrading enzymes (i.e., Mmp2 and Htra1). Our findings highlight important species-dependent, retinal region-specific, and age-related expression and localization patterns of FBLN3 which favor its accumulation during aging. These findings contribute to a better understanding of FBLN3's role in ocular pathology and provide valuable insights for future FBLN3 research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167239
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Basis of Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2024

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  • Age related macular degeneration
  • Expression
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Gene
  • Immunohistochemistry


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