To study further the transient increase in trabecular cell division within the first two days after laser trabeculoplasty in human corneoscleral explant organ cultures, we used a pulse-chase protocol in which immediately after laser treatment 3H-thymidine was added to the culture medium for 48 hours (the pulse period). Fresh medium without radiolabel was then added for variable times (the chase period) before termination of the experiment. Autoradiography was used to follow changes in the regional distribution of the cells that divided during the pulse period and had 3H-thymidine-labeled DNA. Laser-treated explants, evaluated after a pulse with no chase, showed a fourfold increase in cell division (P < .001) over nontreated controls. Nearly 60% of this cell division was localized to the anterior, nonfiltering region of the trabecular meshwork where it inserts into the cornea beneath Schwalbe's line. Trabecular cell division in other regions of the meshwork was not increased over controls at this time. After seven or 14 days of chase without radiolabel, the regional distribution of radiolabeled cells changed in laser-treated explants but not in controls. By 14 days, only 26% of the labeled cells remained in this anterior insert region, while 60% were found in the region of the burn sites. Macroautoradiography of whole explants corroborated these observations. Our data support the hypothesis that laser trabeculoplasty causes early cell division by a population of cells in the anterior meshwork; these new cells then migrate and repopulate the burn sites over the next few weeks.
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