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Soyoung Hong, Je Hwan Yun, Eun-Soon Kim, Ji Seon Kim, Hungwon Tchah, Changmo Hwang; Human Conjunctival Epithelial Sheets Grown on Poly(Lactic-Co-Glycolic) Acid Membranes and Cocultured With Human Tenon's Fibroblasts for Corneal Repair. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2018;59(3):1475-1485. doi: 10.1167/iovs.17-22719.
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We determine the feasibility of human conjunctival epithelial cells (hCjECs) on poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid (PLGA) membranes for corneal epithelium regeneration. hCjECs on PLGA or polyester (PET) membranes with or without coculture of human Tenon's fibroblasts (hTFs) were compared in vitro, and to determine whether epithelial sheets grown on PLGA membranes can repair injured rabbit corneal epithelium by transplantation for 2 weeks in vivo.
Primary hCjECs were cultured on PLGA or the original PET membrane-based transwell inserts with or without coculture of hTFs on the floor of the culture plate. Cell behaviors, such as proliferation and differentiation, were compared. For in vivo assessment, the corneas of rabbits were burned, and PLGA-based epithelial sheets then were transplanted for 2 weeks before histologic staining was conducted and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of the repair.
Primary human epithelial cells on the PLGA membrane showed an increased proliferation when cocultured with fibroblasts, which was confirmed by CCK-8 analysis, and upregulation of Ki67, with the expression of the epithelial marker CK19. The stratified squamous cell marker MUC1 and conjunctival cell marker MUC5AC also were expressed in the epithelial sheet. The epithelial defect in the burned corneas was decreased in the PLGA-based epithelial sheet treatment group (6.1% ± 1.6% of the area) compared to that in the no-treatment group (30.5% ± 6.3%) 2 weeks postoperatively.
We developed a coculture system using a human feeder cell layer and PLGA membrane-based transwell inserts to create human conjunctival epithelial sheets. This system represents a promising strategy to regenerate corneal epithelium by transplantation.
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