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Jessica Weinstein, Matthew Weiss, Jeffrey Goldberg; An animal model for epithelial downgrowth. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):2575.
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Epithelial downgrowth is a rare but devastating complication of penetrating trauma or surgery. It can result in vision loss, intractable glaucoma or corneal decompensation. Treatment methods are usually non-curative and are often followed by recurrence. An animal model of epithelial downgrowth is essential for the development of future diagnostics and therapies, but to date there are few options. Here we developed a rat model of epithelial downgrowth.
Mouse corneal epithelial cells (MCECs) were injected into the anterior chamber of Sprague-Dawley rats and observed over 4 weeks. Anterior chamber ocular coherence tomography (OCT) and intra-ocular pressure (IOP) measurements were done at baseline, 2 and 4 weeks. In each rat, the contralateral eye was used as a control. OCT measurements of corneal thickness were analyzed using MatLab software. Rat eyes were fixed by immersion for 2-3 hours with 4% PFA and then embedded in OCT Tissue-Tek and frozen. Whole eyes were sectioned. Half the representative samples were stained for H&E and the rest were stained with immunohistochemistry with corneal epithelial cell marker antibodies.
H&E staining showed presence of membranes and additional cells in the anterior chamber. DAPI-stained nuclei were evident in the membranes in the experimental eyes when compared to control eyes. Anterior chamber OCT showed thicker corneas in experimental eyes compared to control eyes. IOPs were not significantly elevated in experimental eyes compared to control eyes.
A novel rat model was developed for epithelial downgrowth which mimicked some features of the typical human disease. Further experiments with longer time-points are planned to investigate whether IOP increases eventually. Development of this epithelial downgrowth model may lead to new opportunities for diagnostic and treatment development.
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