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Beatrice Bourghardt Peebo, Per Fagerholm, Catharina Traneus-Röckert, Neil Lagali; Cellular-Level Characterization of Lymph Vessels in Live, Unlabeled Corneas by In Vivo Confocal Microscopy. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(2):830-835. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4407.
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To determine whether in vivo confocal microscopy (IVCM) of the cornea can be used for the label-free detection and monitoring of lymph vessels in live corneas.
Parallel corneal hemangiogenesis and lymphangiogenesis was induced by the placement of a single suture in one cornea of male Wistar rats. Fourteen days after suture placement and under general anesthesia, laser-scanning IVCM was performed in the vascularized region. Corneas were subsequently excised for flat-mount double immunofluorescence with a pan-endothelial marker (PECAM-1/CD31) and a lymphatic endothelial specific marker (LYVE-1). Using the suture area and prominent blood vessels as points of reference, the identical microscopic region was located in both fluorescent and archived in vivo images. Additionally, vessel diameter, lumen contrast, and cell diameter and velocity within vessels were quantified from in vivo images.
Comparison of identical corneal regions in fluorescence and in vivo revealed prominent CD31+/LYVE-13+ lymph vessels that were visible in vivo. In vivo, corneal lymph vessels were located in the vascularized area in the same focal plane as blood vessels but had a darker lumen (P < 0.001) sparsely populated by highly reflective cells with diameters similar to those of leukocytes in blood vessels (P = 0.61). Cell velocity in lymph vessels was significantly reduced compared with blood particle velocity (P < 0.001). Morphologic characteristics enabled subsequent identification of corneal lymphatics in live, vascularized rat corneas before immunofluorescence labeling.
IVCM enabled the nondestructive, label-free, in vivo detection of corneal lymphatics. IVCM provides the possibility of observing lymphatic activity in the same live corneas longitudinally and, as a clinical instrument, of monitoring corneal lymphatics in live human subjects.
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