by Sally Hayes, Craig Boote, Christina S. Kamma-Lorger, Madhavan S. Rajan, Jonathan Harris, Erin Dooley, Nicholas Hawksworth, Jennifer Hiller, Nick J. Terill, Farhad Hafezi, Arun K. Brahma, Andrew J. Quantock, Keith M. Meek
To determine the effect of Ultraviolet-A collagen cross-linking with hypo-osmolar and iso-osmolar riboflavin solutions on stromal collagen ultrastructure in normal and keratoconus ex vivo human corneas. Methods
Using small-angle X-ray scattering, measurements of collagen D-periodicity, fibril diameter and interfibrillar spacing were made at 1 mm intervals across six normal post-mortem corneas (two above physiological hydration (swollen) and four below (unswollen)) and two post-transplant keratoconus corneal buttons (one swollen; one unswollen), before and after hypo-osmolar cross-linking. The same parameters were measured in three other unswollen normal corneas before and after iso-osmolar cross-linking and in three pairs of swollen normal corneas, in which only the left was cross-linked (with iso-osmolar riboflavin). Results
Hypo-osmolar cross-linking resulted in an increase in corneal hydration in all corneas. In the keratoconus corneas and unswollen normal corneas, this was accompanied by an increase in collagen interfibrillar spacing (p<0.001); an increase in fibril diameter was also seen in two out of four unswollen normal corneas and one unswollen keratoconus cornea (p<0.001). Iso-osmolar cross-linking resulted in a decrease in tissue hydration in the swollen normal corneas only. Although there was no consistent treatment-induced change in hydration in the unswollen normal samples, iso-osmolar cross-linking of these corneas did result in a compaction of collagen fibrils and a reduced fibril diameter (p<0.001); these changes were not seen in the swollen normal corneas. Collagen D-periodicity was not affected by either treatment. Conclusion
The observed structural changes following Ultraviolet-A cross-linking with hypo-osmolar or iso-osmolar riboflavin solutions are more likely a consequence of treatment-induced changes in tissue hydration rather than cross-linking.