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G Trabucchi, R Brancato, M Verdi, F Carones, C Sala; Corneal nerve damage and regeneration after excimer laser photokeratectomy in rabbit eyes.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1994;35(1):229-235.
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PURPOSE: To investigate corneal nerve damage and its subsequent regeneration after excimer laser photokeratectomy in rabbit eyes. METHODS: Corneal photokeratectomy was performed on the right eyes of 34 pigmented rabbits, while the left eyes were used as a control. A Summit UV 200 excimer laser (Summit Technology, Waltham, MA) was used to produce a 100 microns depth phototherapeutic keratectomy (4.5 mm diameter). The rabbits were killed at 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 15, and 20 days and 1, 2, 3, and 4 months after treatment. Corneal nerve regeneration was investigated using a monoclonal antibody directed against a 150 kD subunit of neurofilaments, in combination with acetylcholinesterase staining. RESULTS: At time 0, the subepithelial plexus had disappeared completely from the photoablated area. One day after treatment, some regenerating nerves sprouting within the treated area were visualized by a monoclonal antibody directed against a 150 kD subunit of neurofilaments. Acetylcholinesterase staining was detectable 7 days later. One month after surgery the subepithelial plexus had already reappeared, but was morphologically disorganized. Four months after treatment, the newly formed subepithelial plexus had considerably thickened in comparison with that of the control eye. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that corneal nerve regeneration after excimer laser photoablation in rabbit eyes, although more intense, is similar to that produced after other surgical procedures involving the epithelium and the anterior stroma or one of the two.
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