The effect of fibre cell remodelling on the power and optical quality of the lens

J. Rodriguez, Q. Tan, H. Šikić, L. A. Taber, S. Bassnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vertebrate eye lenses are uniquely adapted to form a refractive index gradient (GRIN) for improved acuity, and to grow slowly in size despite constant cell proliferation. The mechanisms behind these adaptations remain poorly understood. We hypothesize that cell compaction contributes to both. To test this notion, we examined the relationship between lens size and shape, refractive characteristics and the cross-sectional areas of constituent fibre cells in mice of different ages. We developed a block-face imaging method to visualize cellular cross sections and found that the cross-sectional areas of fibre cells rose and then decreased over time, with the most significant reduction occurring in denucleating cells in the adult lens cortex, followed by cells in the embryonic nucleus. These findings help reconcile differences between the predictions of lens growth models and empirical data. Biomechanical simulations suggested that compressive forces generated from continuous deposition of fibre cells could contribute to cellular compaction. However, optical measurements revealed that the GRIN did not mirror the pattern of cellular compaction, implying that compaction alone cannot account for GRIN formation and that additional mechanisms are likely to be involved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20230316
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number206
StatePublished - Sep 20 2023


  • compaction
  • fibre cell
  • gradient index
  • lens


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