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Y. Du, J. Li, D. Tan, R. Beuerman; Conjunctiva Transplanted into Corneal Stroma Transitions to a Corneal Epithelial Phenotype . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2006;47(13):4940.
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Determining the influence of mesoderm on the development of epithelial characteristics can take advantage of the ocular surface, as it is easy to study the fate of fornical conjunctival sheets transplanted into the corneal stroma and cultured fornical conjunctival cells placed into the corneal stroma.
In New Zealand White rabbits, sheets of conjunctiva approximately 2mm x 2mm were removed from the fornix. Several relationships with the stroma were tested: 1– sheets of fornical conjunctiva (FC) were transplanted into the stroma of the cornea for periods of 7 days, 2 weeks and 3 weeks; 2– fornical conjunctiva was cultured (CFC) for 5–7days, cells were collected and placed into the stroma of the cornea for 7 days, 2 weeks and 3 weeks. Tissues were removed and prepared for immunohistochemistry using antibodies to cytokeratin 3 /12, cytokeratin12, connexin 43 and cytokeratin 4. These antibodies were also tested for reactivity to the normal rabbit cornea, normal fornical conjunctiva and to the corneas used in experiments 1 and 2.
Normal fornical conjunctiva stained strongly for cytokeratin 4, but did not stain for cytokeratin 3 /12, cytokeratin 12 and weakly for connexin 43, while normal rabbit cornea stained strongly for cytokeratin 3 /12, cytokeratin 12 and connexin 43, but did not stain for cytokeratin 4. After 7 days, transplanted FC tissues and CFC cells placed into the stroma showed a weak positive response to cytokeratin3 /12, while cytokeratin 12 was negative as was connexin 43 and staining for cytokeratin 4 was strong. After 14 days of FC implantation and CFC cells in the stroma, cytokeratin 3 /12 stained moderately, cytokeratin12 staining was weak, with moderate staining for cytokeratin 4, and connexin 43 was negative. However, after 21 days of FC implantation and CFC cells in the stroma, FC was found to exhibit strong staining for cytokeratin 3 /12, cytokeratin12, and moderate staining for cytokeratin 4 and connexin 43.
The results suggest that corneal stoma can influence protein expression in FC and CFC cells so that their morphogenetic characteristics become more corneal like. Despite originating from different stem cell populations, it might be possible to interchange these cell types.
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