Innate Immune System Activation, Inflammation and Corneal Wound Healing

Nyemkuna Fortingo, Samuel Melnyk, Sarah H. Sutton, Mitchell A. Watsky, Wendy B. Bollag

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Corneal wounds resulting from injury, surgeries, or other intrusions not only cause pain, but also can predispose an individual to infection. While some inflammation may be beneficial to protect against microbial infection of wounds, the inflammatory process, if excessive, may delay corneal wound healing. An examination of the literature on the effect of inflammation on corneal wound healing suggests that manipulations that result in reductions in severe or chronic inflammation lead to better outcomes in terms of corneal clarity, thickness, and healing. However, some acute inflammation is necessary to allow efficient bacterial and fungal clearance and prevent corneal infection. This inflammation can be triggered by microbial components that activate the innate immune system through toll-like receptor (TLR) pathways. In particular, TLR2 and TLR4 activation leads to pro-inflammatory nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NFκB) activation. Similarly, endogenous molecules released from disrupted cells, known as damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), can also activate TLR2, TLR4 and NFκB, with the resultant inflammation worsening the outcome of corneal wound healing. In sterile keratitis without infection, inflammation can occur though TLRs to impact corneal wound healing and reduce corneal transparency. This review demonstrates the need for acute inflammation to prevent pathogenic infiltration, while supporting the idea that a reduction in chronic and/or excessive inflammation will allow for improved wound healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14933
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cornea
  • healing
  • inflammation
  • innate immune system
  • phosphatidylglycerol
  • toll-like receptors
  • wound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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