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Damien Guindolet, Emmanuel Crouzet, Zhiguo He, Pascal Herbepin, Chantal Perrache, Thibaud Garcin, Anne-Sophie Gauthier, Fabien Forest, Michel Peoc'h, Philippe Gain, Eric Gabison, Gilles Thuret; Epithelial Regeneration in Human Corneas Preserved in an Active Storage Machine. Trans. Vis. Sci. Tech. 2021;10(2):31. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/tvst.10.2.31.
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To characterize the corneal epithelium (CE) and limbal epithelium (LE) of human corneas stored in an innovative active storage machine (ASM) after a period of organ culture (OC).
Corneas unsuitable for graft and stored in a standard commercial OC medium for 2 to 5 weeks were transferred into our ASM for 14 days. The ASM actively maintained an overpressure on the endothelial side (20 mm Hg) while ensuring medium renewal. We compared three modalities of storage in the ASM's epithelial chamber: (1) alternating exposure to a supplemental hormonal epithelial medium (SHEM) and air (air-lifting), (2) continuous immersion in SHEM, and (3) continuous immersion in OC medium. Passive immersion of the whole cornea in OC medium or of the CE in SHEM with or without airlifting served as controls. Paired corneas were used for better comparability. Histology, differentiation (by immunolabeling), and ultrastructure were analyzed at the end.
The ASM with air-lifting was most effective in regenerating a pluristratified and differentiated CE (apical ZO-1 and MUC16 staining and regeneration of the glycocalyx). In addition, the LE was stratified with preserved expression of ABCB5. The ASM with immersion in SHEM or OC medium gave a less stratified and differentiated CE. In the three control groups, the epithelia, when present, were paucistratified and less differentiated.
In human corneas previously stored in OC, the ASM regenerates a CE with differentiation characteristics close to normal.
Regeneration of the epithelium of human corneas discarded by eye banks will increase tissue availability for research.
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