Pterygia have been reported to share some of the genetic defects seen in cancers, including microsatellite instability (MSI). We examined pterygia for the presence of proteins typically missing or defective in adenocarcinomas with MSI. We also performed microsatellite analysis on DNA from pterygia to test for instability in the size of the microsatellites, using markers conventionally used to characterize MSI in tumors (Bethesda convention markers).
We examined 13 pterygia by immunohistochemistry for MLH1 and MSH2, 2 proteins involved in DNA mismatch repair. In addition, we amplified the pterygial DNA with primers specific for 5 Bethesda markers (BAT25, BAT26, D2S123, D5S346, and D17S250).
MLH1 staining was present at low levels in the basal cells of the cornea and migrating limbal cells of the pterygia. MSH2 staining was present in basal and in maturing epithelial cells of the cornea and migrating limbal cells of pterygia. We observed no reproducible examples of MSI or loss of heterozygosity (LOH).
We were unable to confirm the presence of MSI and LOH by using the markers we examined. MSH2 staining appeared to be normal in pterygia. MLH1 staining was present but in reduced amounts compared with that seen in the conjunctiva.