The Zonule of Zinn, or ciliary zonule, is the elaborate system of extracellular fibers that centers the lens in the eye. In humans, the fibers transmit forces that flatten the lens during the process of disaccommodation, thereby bringing distant objects into focus. Zonular fibers are composed almost entirely of 10–12 nm-wide microfibrils, of which polymerized fibrillin is the most abundant component. The thickest fibers have a fascicular organization, where hundreds or thousands of microfibrils are gathered into micrometer-wide bundles. Many such bundles are aggregated to form a fiber. Dozens of proteins comprise the zonule. Most are derived from cells of the non-pigmented ciliary epithelium in the pars plana region, although some are probably contributed by the lens and perhaps other tissues of the anterior segment. Zonular fibers are viscoelastic cables but their component microfibrils are rather stiff structures. Thus, the elastic properties of the fibers likely stem from lateral interactions between microfibrils. Rupture of zonular fibers and subsequent lens dislocation (ectopia lentis) can result from blunt force trauma or be a sequela of other eye diseases, notably exfoliation syndrome. Ectopia lentis is also a feature of syndromic conditions caused typically by mutations in microfibril-associated genes. The resulting ocular phenotypes raise the possibility that the zonule regulates lens size and shape, globe size, and even corneal topology, in addition to its well-recognized role in accommodation.
- Ectopia lentis
- Elastic modulus