Expression of mTOR in primary pterygium and its correlation with α-smooth muscle actin



Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine protein kinase that has been shown to affect many cellular functions, such as cell growth, proliferation, and metabolism. However, there has been minimal focus on the expression of mTOR in pterygium. The purpose of this study was to investigate the expression of mTOR and the correlation between the levels of mTOR and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA, a marker of transdifferentiation) in pterygium.


Primary pterygium samples from 28 patients and normal conjunctival samples from 16 patients were surgically removed and analyzed. The expression levels of mTOR and α-SMA in the excised specimens were assessed using immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Furthermore, correlations between the mTOR and α-SMA expression levels were studied.


The expression of mTOR and α-SMA was significantly higher in the pterygium tissues than in normal conjunctiva tissues. A significant positive correlation was detected between the number of mTOR-immunopositive fibroblasts and the number of α-SMA-immunopositive fibroblasts (ρ = 0.463, p = 0.0078). Additionally, mTOR expression was significantly correlated with α-SMA expression (ρ = 0.269, p = 0.031) in pterygium.


There was an increased expression of mTOR in pterygium samples compared to that in normal conjunctival tissues, with a positive correlation with α-SMA expression. These findings might be involved in the pathogenesis of pterygium.

Eur J Ophthalmol 2017; 27(6): 664 - 669




Xin-Rong Zhao, Ming-Chang Zhang, Hua-Tao Xie, Nan Ji, Xiao-Qiong Ma

Article History


Financial support: Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81370993) and the National Science Foundation for Young Scholars of China (grant no. 81300736).
Conflict of interest: None of the authors has conflict of interest with this submission.

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  • Department of Ophthalmology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan - China
  • Department of Ophthalmology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Medical College, Shihezi University, Shihezi, Xin Jiang - China
  • Department of Ophthalmology, Yili Friendship Hospital, Yili, Xin Jiang - China

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