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A S Tisdale, S J Spurr-Michaud, M Rodrigues, J Hackett, J Krachmer, I K Gipson; Development of the anchoring structures of the epithelium in rabbit and human fetal corneas.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1988;29(5):727-736.
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The sequence of development of the components of the corneal adhesion complex (hemidesmosomes, basal lamina and anchoring fibrils) was studied in rabbit and human fetal corneas using electron microscopy and histochemical localization of type VII (anchoring fibril) collagen. In the rabbit, basal lamina was present at 15 days gestation, followed by hemidesmosomes (HDs) and anchoring fibrils (AFs) at 20 days gestation. Type VII collagen was first localized at 20 days. At 25 days, HDs remained low compared to the adult value. During human corneal development, basal lamina was present at 8 weeks gestation. Through 12 weeks of gestation, no HDs or AFs were discernible nor was there any type VII localization. At 13-19 weeks, HDs and cross-banded AFs were seen, and localization of type VII collagen was first noted. A palisade of filaments extending perpendicularly from the basal lamina into the underlying stroma was discernible from 13 to 27 weeks. A distinct Bowman's layer was present at 19 weeks. By 27 weeks, HDs/micron membrane were greater than or equal to the adult value, and AF penetration into the underlying stroma was also greater than or equal to the adult value. Bowman's layer had not reached adult values by term. These data indicate that after basal lamina deposition, HDs and AFs develop synchronously in both species. In humans the palisade of filaments may be the precursor of Bowman's layer, and the AF network develops within Bowman's layer.
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