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Patrick Carrier, Alexandre Deschambeault, Mariève Talbot, Claude J. Giasson, François A. Auger, Sylvain L. Guérin, Lucie Germain; Characterization of Wound Reepithelialization Using a New Human Tissue-Engineered Corneal Wound Healing Model. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(4):1376-1385. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.07-0904.
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purpose. The reepithelialization of the corneal surface is an important process for restoring the imaging properties of this tissue. The purpose of the present study was to characterize and validate a new human in vitro three-dimensional corneal wound healing model by studying the expression of basement membrane components and integrin subunits that play important roles during epithelial cell migration and to verify whether the presence of exogenous factors could accelerate the reepithelialization.
methods. Tissue-engineered human cornea was wounded with a 6-mm biopsy punch, and the reepithelialization from the surrounding margins was studied. Biopsy samples of the reepithelialized surface were harvested 3 days after wounding and were processed for histologic, electron microscopic, and immunofluorescence analyses. The effects of fibrin and epithelial growth factor (EGF) on wound reepithelialization were also studied.
results. Results demonstrated that this in vitro model allowed the migration of human corneal epithelial cells on a natural extracellular matrix. During reepithelialization, epithelial cell migration followed a consistent wavelike pattern similar to that reported for human corneal wound healing in vivo. This model showed a histologic appearance similar to that of native tissue as well as expression and modulation of basement membrane components and the integrin subunits known to be main actors during the wound healing process. It also allowed quantification of the reepithelialization rate, which was significantly accelerated in the presence of fibrin or EGF. The results indicated that αvβ6 integrin expression was increased in the migrating epithelial cells compared with the surrounding corneal tissue.
conclusions. The similarity observed with the in vivo wound healing process supports the use of this tissue-engineered model for investigating the basic mechanisms involved in corneal reepithelialization. Moreover, this model may also be used as a tool to screen agents that affect reepithelialization or to evaluate the effect of growth factors before animal testing.
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