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Shoaib Ugradar, Alan Le, Michael Lesgart, Robert A. Goldberg, Daniel Rootman, Joseph L. Demer; Biomechanical and Morphologic Effects of Collagen Cross-Linking in Human Tarsus. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2019;8(6):25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.8.6.25.
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To investigate the feasibility of increasing the stiffness of human tarsal tissue following treatment with riboflavin and ultraviolet A (UVA) to induce cross-linking of collagen fibers.
In this case control study, 18 right and left upper eyelids were excised en bloc from 18 fresh-frozen cadavers. One side served as the control while the samples from the opposite side were cross-linked. Four 2 × 6-mm vertical strips of central tarsus were cut from the superior to inferior border of each tarsal plate. Sample tissue was irradiated with UVA at 6 mW/cm2 for 18 minutes. A microtensile load cell and an optical coherence tomography scanner allowed calculation of stiffness (Young's modulus). Six cross-linked samples and corresponding controls were stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and Masson trichrome stains. Four controls and four cross-linked samples were also reviewed with a transmission electron microscope.
Mean Young's modulus in the linear region for controls was 28 ± 9 MPa and was much higher at 138 ± 8 MPa for cross-linked samples (P < 0.001), yielding a 493% mean stiffness increase. Staining with H&E and Masson did not reveal any histologic changes. Transmission electron microscopy showed a decrease in average diameter of 50 randomly selected collagen fibers from 47.2 ± 1.9 nm prior to cross-linking to 34.2 ± 1.1 nm post cross-linking (P < 0.001). Qualitatively, the collagen fibers appeared more closely packed following cross-linking.
The findings of this study suggest that collagen cross-linking is a viable and effective modality for increasing the stiffness of human tarsal plates.
This work provides proof that collagen cross-linking produces stiffening of the human tarsal plate and may be used in disorders that cause eyelid laxity.
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