Serum inhibits tight junction formation in cultured pigment epithelial cells

Chih Wei Chang, Liyan Ye, Dennis M. Defoe, Ruth B. Coldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Purpose. These experiments were designed to characterize tight junction formation by retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells in vitro and to compare the effects on this process of hormonally defined medium (HDM) and serum- containing medium. Methods. Formation of RPE tight junctions was analyzed in freshly isolated rat RPE cells maintained either in HDM or serum-containing medium. Junctions were evaluated functionally by measuring transepithelial electrical resistance (TER) and permeability and structurally by immunolocalization of the junction-associated actin microfilaments. Calcium dependency of the junction was determined by reducing media calcium concentration. Results. RPE cells cultured in serum-free HDM developed calcium-dependent tight junctions, which exhibited TER levels > 150 Ω · cm 2 and low paracellular permeability. Serum-containing media inhibited tight junction formation as indicated by significant reductions in TER and increases in permeability. Junction-associated actin microfilaments and cell density were unchanged. Conclusions. Tight junction formation by RPE cells is inhibited by serum. This activity may play an important role in responses of the RPE layer to injury, contributing to the pathologic progression of blood- retinal barrier dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1082-1093
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 11 1997


  • blood-retinal barrier
  • cell adhesion
  • retinal cell culture
  • retinal pigment epithelium
  • tight junction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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