April 2010
Volume 51, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   April 2010
In vivo Silk Fibroin Biocompatibility
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • A. Vieira
    Ophthalmology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California
    Ophthalmology, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • K. Forward
    Ophthalmology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California
  • A. Yu
    Ophthalmology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California
  • C. Kim
    Ophthalmology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California
  • G. Harocopos
    Ophthalmology; Pathology and Immunology, Washington University, St Louis, St Louis, Missouri
  • I. R. Schwab
    Ophthalmology, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, California
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  A. Vieira, None; K. Forward, None; A. Yu, None; C. Kim, None; G. Harocopos, None; I.R. Schwab, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  Study partially supported by a departmental grant from Research to Prevent Blindness Inc. First author's stay in the US was partially funded by CAPES, Brazil
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science April 2010, Vol.51, 4872. doi:
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    • Get Citation

      A. Vieira, K. Forward, A. Yu, C. Kim, G. Harocopos, I. R. Schwab; In vivo Silk Fibroin Biocompatibility. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):4872.

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

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Silk has been used as a biomaterial for a number of medical applications. Corneal diseases comprise a significant portion of causes of blindness worldwide. Unfortunately, availability of good quality donor corneas remains a challenge in some countries. To date, an ideal material for a corneal replacement device has not been demonstrated. Silk has shown potential to serve as a scaffold for corneal tissue regeneration. The immune response to silk in the eye has not been evaluated previously. This is a pilot study in which we analyze the biocompatibility of silk fibroin with the eye in vivo.


2 mm silk fibroin discs were surgically implanted into rabbits’ eyes. The animals were divided into 3 groups, according to the eye structure into which the discs were placed: corneal stroma, anterior chamber and subconjunctival space. Each group consisted of 3 control and 5 test rabbits. The controls underwent the same surgical procedures, but did not have silk discs implanted. Animals were observed for 60 days. They were then euthanized and the eyes enucleated for histopathology.


Slit lamp examination (Figure) and histopathological evaluation of the explants revealed minimal inflammation. Small silk fibroin discs did not seem to induce significant inflammatory reaction in the test eyes. Further investigation about larger size inserts is under way.


We believe that silk fibroin is inert within the rabbit eye. This pilot study helped us establish surgical techniques and supports the use of silk as a potential biomaterial for future applications in Ophthalmology.  

Keywords: pathology: experimental • anterior segment • cornea: basic science 

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