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Xin Che, Han Wu, Changkai Jia, Huimin Sun, Shangkun Ou, Junqi Wang, M. Vimalin Jeyalatha, Xin He, Jingwen Yu, Chengyou Zuo, Zuguo Liu, Wei Li; A Novel Tissue-Engineered Corneal Stromal Equivalent Based on Amniotic Membrane and Keratocytes. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2019;60(2):517-527. doi: 10.1167/iovs.18-24869.
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To investigate a novel strategy in constructing tissue-engineered corneal stromal equivalent based on amniotic membrane and keratocytes.
The ultrathin amniotic membrane (UAM) was laminated, with corneal stromal cells (CSCs) distributed between the space of the layered UAMs. Calcein AM staining was used to evaluate cellular viability, morphology, and arrangement. Immunostaining, qRT-PCR, and Western blot were performed to detect gene and protein expression in keratocytes. Optical coherence tomography visualized the cross sections and thickness of the UAM construction. The microstructure of the CSC-secreted extracellular matrix (ECM) was investigated by scanning electron microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). To evaluate the feasibility of the multilayer UAM-CSC lamination for surgery, the corneal substitute was used to perform lamellar keratoplasty. Slit lamp microscopy and corneal fluorescein staining were performed in postsurgery observation.
The CSCs maintained their keratocyte phenotype and secreted well-organized ECM on the aligned UAM surface. The four-layer UAM-CSC lamination attained half thickness of the human cornea (250 ± 18 μm) after 8 weeks' culture, which also showed promising optimal transparency. In TEM images, the CSC-generated ECM displayed stratified, multilayered lamellae with orthogonal fibril arrangement, which was similar to the human cornea microstructure. Furthermore, the stromal equivalent was successfully preformed in lamellar keratoplasty. Four weeks post surgery, the substitute was well integrated into the recipient cornea and completely epithelialized without myofibroblast differentiation.
Our study established a novel 3D biomimetic corneal model to replicate the corneal stromal organization with multilayer UAM, which was capable of promoting the development of corneal stroma–like tissues in vitro, establishing a new avenue for basic research and therapeutic potential.
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