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Rodrigo T. Müller, Roxanna Pourmirzaie, Deborah Pavan-Langston, Bernardo M. Cavalcanti, Shruti Aggarwal, Clara Colón, Arsia Jamali, Andrea Cruzat, Pedram Hamrah; In Vivo Confocal Microscopy Demonstrates Bilateral Loss of Endothelial Cells in Unilateral Herpes Simplex Keratitis. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(8):4899-4906. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.15-16527.
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To report bilateral corneal endothelial cell density (ECD), as well as its correlation with subbasal nerve changes, in patients with unilateral herpes simplex keratitis (HSK).
Thirty-six eyes of 36 patients with corneal scarring caused by HSK, as well as their respective contralateral clinically unaffected eyes, were prospectively studied and compared with 26 eyes of 26 healthy volunteers. In vivo confocal microscopy and corneal sensation of the central cornea were performed bilaterally in all patients and in one random eye of controls. The ECD and subbasal corneal nerve density, including the lengths of total nerves, main trunks, and branches were evaluated and correlated to central corneal sensation.
The ECD was significantly lower in eyes affected with HSK than in controls (2304 ± 578 vs. 2940 ± 370 cells/mm2, P < 0.0001). Surprisingly, lower ECD was also detected in contralateral clinically unaffected eyes (2548 ± 423), compared to controls (P = 0.02). Both affected and contralateral eyes showed decrease in total nerve length, compared to controls (10.0 ± 6.3 vs. 17.6 ± 6.3 vs. 21.9 ± 4.3 mm/mm2, respectively; P < 0.05 for all). The ECD correlated positively with total nerve length (r = 0.39, P = 0.0009) and with corneal sensation (r = 0.31, P = 0.009).
In vivo confocal microscopy findings demonstrated alterations in corneal ECD in both affected and clinically unaffected contralateral eyes of patients with unilateral HSK. Moreover, the positive significant correlation between the ECD and the subbasal nerve density may suggest a potential link between corneal innervation and corneal endothelial cell homeostasis.
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