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Jemin Jeremy Chae, Yu Jung Shin, Jennifer Elisseeff; Lamellar corneal transplantation using reconstructed decellularized tissue in a rabbit model. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(8):1412.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previously, we demonstrated successful reconstruction of the micro- and macro-structure of damaged decellularized cornea, resulting in restoration of transparency and unique concavity of the cornea. We further proved that structural reconstruction improved mechanical, thermal and biological properties of the cornea. We now aim to demonstrate the applicability of our reconstructed cornea (RC) to serve as a corneal substitute with a clinically relevant surgical procedure, lamellar corneal transplantation, using a rabbit model.
Eight male New Zealand white rabbits, 2 to 3.5 kg in weight, were used in this study. Rabbits were randomly divided two groups: 6 rabbits for the RC group and 2 animals for the untreated negative control. After removing a button of the rabbit cornea, rabbits in the RC cornea group received a shaped RC affixed using 10-0 nylon sutures. The negative control group was similarly operated on, but did not receive any material and rather, was allowed to heal naturally. Clinical evaluations, including ophthalmic biomicroscopy and fluorescein staining were performed at day 3, 7, 14, 31, 90 after surgery. At postoperative 31 and 90 days, a rabbit from the control group and three rabbits from the RC group were sacrificed for H&E staining and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
The RC implants showed good integration with host tissue, regeneration of epithelium, as well as biocompatibility, and presented no significant complications such as neovascularization, graft degradation, graft dislocation or immune rejection. Pathological examination with H&E staining presented that the RC implanted corneas allowed corneal epithelial cells as well as keratocytes to migrate on and into the RC implants respectively. In addition, migrated keratocytes remodeled the collagen structure of the RC. In ultrastructural evaluation, the RC had fully integrated with host tissue by 3 months, post-surgery. However, some gaps between RC and host cornea were found at the interface up to 1 month post-surgery. Further, the collagen density of implanted RC was higher than that of the regenerated control cornea at both 1 month and 3 months after surgery.
The application of our RC for the rabbit partial keratectomy model demonstrated that the material has the potential to regenerate the damaged patient cornea and to substitute conventional human allograft transplantation.
This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2017 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Baltimore, MD, May 7-11, 2017.
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