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Ophthalmology - Physiology


Conjunctival Reconstruction with Progenitor Cell-Derived Autologous Epidermal Sheets in Rhesus Monkey
Published: Friday, November 11, 2011
Author: Rong Lu et al.

by Rong Lu, Xinchun Zhang, Danping Huang, Bing Huang, Nan Gao, Zhichong Wang, Jian Ge

Severe ocular surface diseases are some of the most challenging problems that the clinician faces today. Conventional management is generally unsatisfactory, and the long-term ocular consequences of these conditions are devastating. It is significantly important to find a substitute for conjunctival epithelial cells. This study was to explore the possibility of progenitor cell-derived epidermal sheets on denuded amniotic membrane to reconstruct ocular surface of conjunctiva damaged monkeys. We isolated epidermal progenitor cells of rhesus monkeys by type IV collagen adhesion, and then expanded progenitor cell-derived epidermal sheets on denuded amniotic membrane ex vivo. At 3 weeks after the conjunctiva injury, the damaged ocular surface of four monkeys was surgically reconstructed by transplanting the autologous cultivated epidermal progenitor cells. At 2 weeks after surgery, transplants were removed and examined with Hematoxylin-eosin staining, Periodic acid Schiff staining, immunofluorescent staining, scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Histological examination of transplanted sheets revealed that the cell sheets were healthy alive, adhered well to the denuded amniotic membrane, and had several layers of epithelial cells. Electron microscopy showed that the epithelial cells were very similar in appearance to those of normal conjunctival epithelium, even without goblet cell detected. Epithelial cells of transplants had numerous desmosomal junctions and were attached to the amniotic membrane with hemidesmosomes. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the presence of the conjunctival specific markers, mucin 4 and keratin 4, in the transplanted epidermal progenitor cells. In conclusion, our present study successfully reconstructed conjunctiva with autologous transplantation of progenitor cell-derived epidermal sheets on denuded AM in conjunctival damaged monkeys, which is the first step toward assessing the use of autologous transplantation of progenitor cells of nonocular surface origin. Epidermal progenitor cells could be provided as a new substitute for conjunctival epithelial cells to overcome the problems of autologous conjunctiva shortage.
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