September 1989
Volume 30, Issue 9
Articles  |   September 1989
Corneal nerve regeneration. Correlation between morphology and restoration of sensitivity.
Author Affiliations
  • A M de Leeuw
    Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.
  • K Y Chan
    Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle 98195.
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science September 1989, Vol.30, 1980-1990. doi:
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      A M de Leeuw, K Y Chan; Corneal nerve regeneration. Correlation between morphology and restoration of sensitivity.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1989;30(9):1980-1990.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Corneal nerve regeneration was determined in albino rabbits after deepithelialization of the cornea using heptanol. Regeneration was monitored up to 10 weeks by measuring corneal tactile sensitivity using an esthesiometer and by examining stromal and intraepithelial nerve patterns following gold chloride impregnation and acetylcholinesterase staining. Tactile sensitivity was much reduced, possibly absent, up to 2 weeks after wounding. From 2.5-4 weeks, sensitivity recovered rapidly to 60% of prewounding levels and remained unchanged thereafter. In control corneas, a distinct orientation of the basoepithelial leashes towards the nasal-most limbus was observed in the central two-thirds of the cornea. Three days after wounding, neurites that were oriented radially towards the wound center extended into the periphery of the wound area from just beyond the wound margin. At 1 week, regenerating axons were present as single neurites and in the form of modified leashes, mainly at the periphery of the wound area but also more towards the center. At 3 weeks, neurites, regenerated leashes and networks of terminals with terminal endings were found throughout the regenerated epithelium. Regional changes in the orientation of the regenerated leashes were observed also. No further change in the intraepithelial nerve pattern was detectable thereafter up to 10 weeks after wounding. It was concluded that partial restoration of tactile sensitivity following deepithelialization of the cornea is a function of the establishment of a near-normal nerve pattern in the regenerated epithelium and is correlated with the subnormal neural density observed in a previous study.


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