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Zhiguo He, Fabien Forest, Aurélien Bernard, Anne-Sophie Gauthier, Romain Montard, Michel Peoc'h, Clotilde Jumelle, Emilie Courrier, Chantal Perrache, Philippe Gain, Gilles Thuret; Cutting and Decellularization of Multiple Corneal Stromal Lamellae for the Bioengineering of Endothelial Grafts. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(15):6639-6651. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.16-20256.
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Engineered corneal endothelial grafts able to provide numerous functional endothelial cells for the restoration of corneal transparency would be a worthwhile way of replacing donor tissue, which is extremely scarce. The grafts are simply constructed: a biocompatible thin and transparent carrier colonized by a monolayer of cultured endothelial cells (ECs). Here we describe a process able to obtain appropriate carriers by recycling human corneas unsuitable for graft in their original state, but liable to provide multiple thin lamellae when cut with a femtosecond laser as used in refractive surgery.
We selected a robust method of stromal decellularization. To demonstrate that neither this process nor long-term storage hindered cell adherence, lamellae were endothelialized with an EC line.
The constructs achieved up to very high EC density (the main quality criterion for regular donor corneas) while remaining transparent and thin. We verified that they could be inserted in the anterior chamber of a human eye, like a conventional endothelial graft. Human decellularized cornea will likely be directly compatible with the recipient cornea and comply with the requirements of health regulatory authorities.
This study demonstrates that thin human corneal lamellae could have high potential as carriers in next-generation therapy for endothelial dysfunctions.
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