Purpose: To review the present understanding of hyalocytes. Methods: A review of recent studies that investigated the roles of hyalocytes in the pathophysiology of the vitreous cavity. Results: Studies on immunocytochemistry and chimeric mice with green fluorescent protein transgenic mice show that hyalocytes belong to the monocyte/macrophage lineage and derive from bone marrow. The effects of hyalocytes on the vitreous cavity environment can be divided into three categories: synthesis of extracellular matrix, regulation of the vitreous cavity immunology, and modulation of inflammation. In noninflamed eyes, vitreous cavity is an immune-privileged site that is maintained by a system called vitreous cavity-associated immune deviation, in which hyalocytes play the role of antigen-presenting cells. However, cultured hyalocytes proliferate in response to inflammatory molecules and secrete vascular endothelial growth factor and urokinase-type plasminogen activator. A collagen gel embedded with hyalocytes contracts over time, which is enhanced by transforming growth factor-β but is inhibited by Rho kinase inhibitor. These results suggest that hyalocytes can be an exacerbating factor in inflamed eyes. Clinically, hyalocytes are frequently found in the surgically removed specimens of epiretinal membrane or proliferative vitreoretinopathy. Conclusion: Elucidating the properties of hyalocytes is important to understand the biology of vitreous cavity and to develop novel treatments for vitreoretinal diseases.
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