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Patrick M. Ladage, James V. Jester, W. Matthew Petroll, Jan P. G. Bergmanson, H. Dwight Cavanagh; Vertical Movement of Epithelial Basal Cells toward the Corneal Surface during Use of Extended-Wear Contact Lenses. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(3):1056-1063. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.02-0725.
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purpose. To study the effects of extended contact lens wear (EW) on the movement of basal epithelial cells toward the corneal surface.
methods. Rabbits (n = 32) were injected with 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) to label a group of proliferating basal epithelial cells, and, 24 hours later, one randomly chosen eye was fitted with a low- or medium-oxygen-transmissible (Dk/t) rigid gas permeable (RGP) contact lens, while the other eye served as the control (n = 28). Four rabbits were not fitted with any contact lens. Rabbits were euthanatized at different time points and the corneal epithelium was immunocytochemically stained for BrdU and/or Ki-67 and counterstained with propidium iodide or Syto 59. Corneal flatmount tissues were examined three dimensionally under a laser confocal microscope and the location of each BrdU-labeled cell in the corneal epithelium (basal or suprabasal) was determined.
results. Four days after injection of BrdU, both low- (P < 0.001) and medium-Dk/t RGP (P < 0.001) lens groups showed significantly more BrdU-labeled cells in the basal cell layer than in the control eyes. Six days after injection of BrdU, a small percentage of BrdU-labeled cells (<0.5%) were Ki-67 positive.
conclusions. Within 6 days, the majority (80%) of BrdU-labeled basal cells became terminally differentiated and rarely divided secondarily in the central epithelium. Short-term use of low- and medium-Dk/t RGP EW contact lenses slows the normal movement of basal epithelial cells toward the surface in the central cornea. This is consistent with known EW-lens–induced decreases in corneal epithelial basal cell proliferation and surface cell exfoliation. Overall, the data suggest that EW lenses significantly inhibit the normal homeostatic turnover rate of the corneal epithelium.
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