Endothelial glycocalyx layer in the aqueous outflow pathway of bovine and human eyes

Chen Yuan Charlie Yang, Tiffany Huynh, Mark Johnson, Haiyan Gong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The glycocalyx layer on the vascular endothelium is known to have an important role as a transport barrier and in the mechanotransduction of fluid shear stress. The detailed structure and distribution of the glycocalyx in the bovine and human aqueous humor outflow pathways has not yet been reported. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this layer exists in the bovine and human aqueous outflow pathways and to compare the distribution and thickness therein. Enucleated bovine (N=4) and human (N=4) eyes were fixed using Alcian Blue to preserve the glycocalyx. The glycocalyx distribution and thickness (in regions where it was seen) were measured on the trabecular beams (TM), Schlemm's canal (SC)/aqueous plexus (AP), and collector channels (CC). The glycocalyx, which appears as a layer of hair-like brushes, coats the surface of the endothelium non-uniformly in the bovine and human aqueous outflow pathways with a thickness in bovine eyes of 68-122nm and in human eyes of 52-166nm (25th to 75th percentiles). The distribution of the glycocalyx in different regions of the outflow pathway is not the same between bovine and human eyes. In both species, the glycocalyx was most uniform in the CCs. Less coverage of glycocalyx was found in the AP than the TM in bovine eyes, while more coverage was found in SC than the TM in human eyes. Most interestingly, glycocalyx was also found filling most pores of the endothelium of AP/SC in both bovine and human eyes. Glycocalyx was usually not found coating the inner membranes of the giant vacuoles (GVs); however, in GVs with a visible pore, glycocalyx was frequently observed on the inner membranes of the GVs. Based on our findings and those from the vascular endothelium, it is likely that the glycocalyx in SC plays a role in transduction of shear stress and perhaps regulation of outflow resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental eye research
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Alcian Blue staining
  • Collector channel
  • Electron microscopy
  • Endothelium
  • Giant vacuole
  • Pore
  • Schlemm's canal
  • Trabecular meshwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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