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J.K. Slettedal, H.M. Ramstad, B. Nicolaissen; Epithelium of Cultured Donor Corneas With Extended Post Mortem Time . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):2360.
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We are currently examining the epithelium in donor corneas with extended post mortem time for regeneration ability and structural changes in an eye bank organ culture system. At present it is not known for how long the donor epithelium is able to survive post mortem.
Paired donor corneas with post mortem time up to 141 hours were obtained. One cornea of a pair was immediately fixed to serve as a control, and the second was cultured in the organ culture system at 32°C for one, two or three days. Examination with light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy was performed.
The control corneas showed decreasing amount of epithelial cells with increasing post mortem time. After five to six days only a rim of deep peripheral cells remained. All the cultured corneas demonstrated rapid regeneration of the epithelium. After three days in organ culture, all the corneas showed an epithelial covering. Light microscopy revealed a multilayered epithelium.
Even up to six days post mortem, viable cells reside in the corneal epithelium. Donor corneas processed in eye banks using an organ culture storage system will obtain an epithelial layer within few days. The study demonstrates for the first time a regenerative potential even in donor corneas with such an extended post mortem time. This may be advantageous for the clinical outcome of penetrating keratoplasty.
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