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Winston W Y Kao, Mindy Call, Shao-Hsuan Chang, David E Birk; Human umbilical mesenchymal stem cells treat acquired and congenital corneal opacity. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):1304.
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Maintenance of a transparent corneal stroma is imperative for proper vision. The corneal stroma is composed of collagen fibers, small leucine-rich proteoglycans (SLRPs), as well as sparsely distributed cells called keratocytes. It is the lattice arrangement and spacing of the collagen fibrils that allows for transparency. This arrangement is maintained by both collagen-collagen and proteoglycan-collagen interactions. Disruption of the collagen fibril architecture from conditions such as corneal stromal congenital dystrophy, cornea plana, corneal injury or surgical intervention can lead to loss of visual acuity. The purpose of this study, is to examine the therapeutic efficacy of human umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (hUMSCs) in treating both acquired and congenital corneal opacity.<br />
To examine treatment of congenital corneal opacity we utilized a transgenic mouse model in which collagen V is ablated from the corneal stroma (Kera-rtTA/TC/Col5a1f/f or Kera-cre/Col5af/f) resulting in a thin, cloudy cornea. Treatment of acquired corneal opacity was examined using a keratectomy injury model in C57BL/6J mice where a 2-mm central keratectomy wound was generated. In both cases, eyes were treated with hUMSCs and monitored via HRTII and second harmonic microscopy to assess for corneal transparency and stromal architecture.<br />
hUMSCs were successful in recovering some corneal transparency and thickness in both normal and Col5a1-null injured corneas as determined by in vivo HRTII confocal microscope and second harmonic confocal microscopy. These findings clarify the myth of an old paradigm that collagen fibrils are very inert and stable and are not subjected to quick turnover.
Together these results demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy of using hUMSCs in treating corneal diseases caused by genetic mutations and injuries.
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