Transplantation of a Tissue-Engineered Corneal Endothelium Reconstructed on a Devitalized Carrier in the Feline Model
Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
PURPOSE. To evaluate the functional outcome of tissue-engineered corneal endothelium reconstructed on a devitalized carrier and transplanted in the living feline model. METHODS. Eighteen healthy adult cats underwent full-thickness corneal transplantation. In 11 animals, the donor cornea was reconstructed from cultured allogeneic feline corneal endothelial cells seeded on the denuded Descemet's membrane of a devitalized human cornea. The reconstructed corneal endothelium was cultured for 2 weeks
... before transplantation. Five control animals received autologous (n ϭ 1), allogeneic (n ϭ 3), or human xenogeneic (n ϭ 1) native cornea. Two other control animals were grafted with the devitalized carrier only (no cells). Animals were observed daily by slit lamp until euthanatization on day 7. Postmortem analysis included optical coherence tomography (OCT), alizarin red staining, histology, fluorescence microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). RESULTS. Nine of the 11 reconstructed corneal endothelial grafts and all five native (autologous, allogeneic, xenogeneic) control grafts were clear and thin 7 days after grafting. In contrast, the two control grafts consisting of the carrier only (without endothelium) remained thick and opaque. Alizarin red staining, histology, SEM, and TEM showed that the transplanted reconstructed endothelium maintained a normal morphology and ultrastructure and expressed the function-related proteins Na ϩ /K ϩ -ATPase ␣1, Na ϩ /HCO 3 , and ZO-1. CONCLUSIONS. This study provides evidence for the short-term (7-day) anatomic and functional success of corneal transplantation with a tissue-engineered corneal endothelium reconstructed on a devitalized carrier. (Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci.