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Nuria Genicio, Juan Gallo Paramo, Alex J. Shortt; Quantum Dot Labeling and Tracking of Cultured Limbal Epithelial Cell Transplants In Vitro. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(5):3051-3059. doi: 10.1167/iovs.14-15973.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Cultured human limbal epithelial cells (HLECs) have shown promise in the treatment of limbal stem cell deficiency but little is known about their survival, behavior, and long-term fate after transplantation. The aim of this research was to evaluate, in vitro, quantum dot (Qdot) technology as a tool for tracking transplanted HLECs.
In vitro cultured HLECs were labeled with Qdot nanocrystals. Toxicity was assessed using live-dead assays. The effect on HLEC function was assessed using colony-forming efficiency assays and expression of CK3, P63alpha, and ABCG2. Sheets of cultured HLECs labeled with Qdot nanocrystals were transplanted onto decellularized human corneoscleral rims in an organ culture model and observed to investigate the behavior of transplanted cells.
Quantum dot labeling had no detrimental effect on HLEC viability or function in vitro. Proliferation resulted in a gradual reduction in Qdot signal but sufficient signal was present to allow tracking of cells through multiple generations. Cells labeled with Qdots could be reliably detected and observed using confocal microscopy for at least 2 weeks after transplantation in our organ culture model. In addition, it was possible to label and observe epithelial cells in intact human corneas by using the Rostock corneal module adapted for use with the Heidelberg HRA.
This work demonstrates that Qdots combined with existing clinical equipment could be used to track HLEC for up to 2 weeks after transplantation; however, our model does not permit the assessment of cell labeling beyond 2 weeks. Further characterization in in vivo models are required.
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