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Ki-Sook Park, Chae Ho Lim, Byung-Moo Min, Jae Lim Lee, Hee-Yong Chung, Choun-Ki Joo, Chan-Woong Park, Youngsook Son; The Side Population Cells in the Rabbit Limbus Sensitively Increased in Response to the Central Cornea Wounding. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(3):892-900. doi: 10.1167/iovs.05-1006.
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purpose. Side population (SP) cells are known to reside in the limbus as putative corneal epithelial stem cells. This study was performed to demonstrate the presence and the characteristics of SP cells in the rabbit limbal epithelium and explore their sensitivity in response to the central cornea wounding.
methods. To sort out the SP cells, freshly isolated rabbit limbal and central corneal epithelial cells were subjected to Hoechst 33342 dye efflux assay. For characterization of the sorted SP cells, RT-PCR analysis, semidry three-dimensional (3-D) cell culture, and transplantation in nude mice were performed. To explore wound sensitivity of the limbal SP cells, the rabbit central cornea was wounded by direct contact of a 6-mm paper disk soaked with 1 N NaOH, and changes in the population size of the SP cells and the colony-forming efficiency (CFE) was monitored on days 1, 2, and 5 after wounding.
results. The SP cells were present in the rabbit limbal epithelium with an incidence of 0.73% ± 0.14% (n = 8) and were smaller in cell size than the major population (MP) cells, quiescent in the cell cycle, and in the undifferentiated state. The SP cells were able to regenerate the cornealike structure with basal enrichment of p63-positive cells by in vitro 3-D culture and in vivo transplantation, all of which were best achieved by the whole population (WP) of cells comprising SP and MP cells. After central cornea wounding, this rare population of the limbal SP cells increased in size fivefold on day 1 and then decreased on day 2. The transient increase in the SP cells was subsequently followed by the propagation of an increase in CFE in the limbal MP cells on day 2 and then in the corneal MP cells on day 5. In the hematopoietic colony-forming assay, the limbal SP cells gave approximately eightfold higher CFU than the limbal MP cells.
conclusions. The SP cells identified in the rabbit limbus are an undifferentiated and noncycling rare epithelial cell population, which sensitively respond to the central cornea wounding by their transient increase in the population size.
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