Inverse computational analysis of in vivo corneal elastic modulus change after collagen crosslinking for keratoconus.
ABSTRACT: Corneal collagen crosslinking with riboflavin photosensitization and ultraviolet irradiation is a novel approach to limiting the progression of keratoconus in patients by increasing the elastic modulus of the degenerate cornea. Beneficial reductions in corneal steepness and aberrations after crosslinking also frequently occur. In a previous study, we described a computational modeling approach to simulating topographic progression in keratoconus and regression of disease with corneal collagen crosslinking. In the current study, this model has been expanded and applied to the inverse problem of estimating longitudinal time-dependent changes in the corneal elastic modulus after crosslinking using in vivo measurements from 16 human eyes. Topography measured before crosslinking was used to construct a patient-specific finite element model with assumed hyperelastic properties. Then the properties of the cornea were altered using an inverse optimization method to minimize the difference between the model-predicted and in vivo corneal shape after crosslinking. Effects of assumptions regarding sclera-to-cornea elastic modulus ratio and spatial attenuation of treatment effect due to ultraviolet beam characteristics on the predicted change in elastic modulus were also investigated. Corneal property changes computed by inverse finite element analysis provided excellent geometric agreement with clinical topography measurements in patient eyes post-crosslinking. Over all post-treatment time points, the estimated increase in corneal elastic modulus was 110.8 ± 48.1%, and slightly less stiffening was required to produce the same amount of corneal topographic regression of disease when the sclera-to-cornea modulus ratio was increased. Including the effect of beam attenuation resulted in greater estimates of stiffening in the anterior cornea. Corneal shape responses to crosslinking varied considerably and emphasize the importance of a patient-specific approach.
Project description:UVA/riboflavin corneal cross-linking (CXL) is a common used approach to treat progressive keratoconus. This study aims to investigate the alteration of corneal stiffness following CXL by mimicking the inflation of the eye under the in vivo loading conditions. Seven paired porcine eye globes were involved in the inflation test to examine the corneal behaviour. Cornea-only model was constructed using the finite element method, without considering the deformation contribution from sclera and limbus. Inverse analysis was conducted to calibrate the non-linear material behaviours in order to reproduce the inflation test. The corneal stress and strain values were then extracted from the finite element models and tangent modulus was calculated under stress level at 0.03 MPa. UVA/riboflavin cross-linked corneas displayed a significant increase in the material stiffness. At the IOP of 27.25 mmHg, the average displacements of corneal apex were 307 ± 65 ?m and 437 ± 63 ?m (p = 0.02) in CXL and PBS corneas, respectively. Comparisons performed on tangent modulus ratios at a stress of 0.03 MPa, the tangent modulus measured in the corneas treated with the CXL was 2.48 ± 0.69, with a 43±24% increase comparing to its PBS control. The data supported that corneal material properties can be well-described using this inflation methods following CXL. The inflation test is valuable for investigating the mechanical response of the intact human cornea within physiological IOP ranges, providing benchmarks against which the numerical developments can be translated to clinic.
Project description:Keratoconus, a common inherited ocular disorder resulting in progressive corneal thinning, is the leading indication for corneal transplantation in the developed world. Genome-wide association studies have identified common SNPs 100 kb upstream of ZNF469 strongly associated with corneal thickness. Homozygous mutations in ZNF469 and PR domain-containing protein 5 (PRDM5) genes result in brittle cornea syndrome (BCS) Types 1 and 2, respectively. BCS is an autosomal recessive generalized connective tissue disorder associated with extreme corneal thinning and a high risk of corneal rupture. Some individuals with heterozygous PRDM5 mutations demonstrate a carrier ocular phenotype, which includes a mildly reduced corneal thickness, keratoconus and blue sclera. We hypothesized that heterozygous variants in PRDM5 and ZNF469 predispose to the development of isolated keratoconus. We found a significant enrichment of potentially pathologic heterozygous alleles in ZNF469 associated with the development of keratoconus (P = 0.00102) resulting in a relative risk of 12.0. This enrichment of rare potentially pathogenic alleles in ZNF469 in 12.5% of keratoconus patients represents a significant mutational load and highlights ZNF469 as the most significant genetic factor responsible for keratoconus identified to date.
Project description:Factors governing the steady-state IOP have been extensively studied; however, the dynamic aspects of IOP are less understood. Clinical studies have suggested that intraocular pressure (IOP) fluctuation may be associated with glaucoma risk. This study aims to investigate how stiffening of corneoscleral biomechanical properties affects IOP spikes induced by rapid microvolumetric change. Porcine eyes (n = 25 in total) were subjected to volumetric infusions before and after external treatment of a circular area (11 mm diameter) in either the central cornea or posterior sclera. The treated area in the control group was immersed in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) for 40 min, while the treated area of the chemical crosslinking group was immersed in 4% glutaraldehyde/PBS for 40 min. A subset of the sham-treated eyes was also subjected to volumetric infusions at a raised steady-state IOP. The magnitude of IOP spikes increased after localized chemical crosslinking of either the cornea (27.5% increase, p < 0.001) or the sclera (14.3% increase, p < 0.001) with corneal crosslinking having a stronger effect than scleral crosslinking (p = 0.018). We also observed that raising the steady-state IOP from 15 to 25 mmHg resulted in marked increase in IOP spike magnitudes by 63.9% (p < 0.001). These results suggested that an increased corneoscleral stiffness could significantly increase IOP spike magnitudes at the same volumetric change. Corneal stiffness appeared to have a strong impact on the IOP spike magnitude and may play a major role in regulating rapid volume-pressure dynamics. An increase in steady-state IOP also resulted in larger IOP fluctuations due to the increased "apparent" stiffness of the ocular shell, suggesting a potential interaction between the magnitude of IOP and its fluctuations. Corneoscleral properties may represent additional pathways for understanding and managing glaucoma risk and warrant future investigation.
Project description:To characterize and quantify the collagen fiber (lamellar) organization of human corneas in three dimensions by using nonlinear optical high-resolution macroscopy (NLO-HRMac) and to correlate these findings with mechanical data obtained by indentation testing of corneal flaps.Twelve corneas from 10 donors were studied. Vibratome sections, 200 ?m thick, from five donor eyes were cut along the vertical meridian from limbus to limbus (arc length, 12 mm). Backscattered second harmonic-generated (SHG) NLO signals from these sections were collected as a series of overlapping 3-D images, which were concatenated to form a single 3-D mosaic (pixel resolution: 0.44 ?m lateral, 2 ?m axial). Collagen fiber intertwining was quantified by determining branching point density as a function of stromal depth. Mechanical testing was performed on corneal flaps from seven additional eyes. Corneas were cut into three layers (anterior, middle, and posterior) using a femtosecond surgical laser system and underwent indentation testing to determine the elastic modulus for each layer.The 3-D reconstructions revealed complex collagen fiber branching patterns in the anterior cornea, with fibers extending from the anterior limiting lamina (ALL, Bowman's layer), intertwining with deeper fibers and reinserting back to the ALL, forming bow spring-like structures. Measured branching-point density was four times higher in the anterior third of the cornea than in the posterior third and decreased logarithmically with increasing distance from the ALL. Indentation testing showed an eightfold increase in elastic modulus in the anterior stroma.The axial gradient in lamellar intertwining appears to be associated with an axial gradient in the effective elastic modulus of the cornea, suggesting that collagen fiber intertwining and formation of bow spring-like structures provide structural support similar to cross-beams in bridges and large-scale structures. Future studies are necessary to determine the role of radial and axial structural-mechanical heterogeneity in controlling corneal shape and in the development of keratoconus, astigmatism, and other refractive errors.
Project description:The rabbit is commonly used to evaluate new corneal prosthetics and study corneal wound healing. Knowledge of the stiffness of the rabbit cornea would better inform the design and fabrication of keratoprosthetics and substrates with relevant mechanical properties for in vitro investigations of corneal cellular behavior. This study determined the elastic modulus of the rabbit corneal epithelium, anterior basement membrane (ABM), anterior and posterior stroma, Descemet's membrane (DM) and endothelium using atomic force microscopy (AFM). In addition, three-dimensional collagen fiber organization of the rabbit cornea was determined using nonlinear optical high-resolution macroscopy. The elastic modulus as determined by AFM for each corneal layer was: epithelium, 0.57 ± 0.29 kPa (mean ± SD); ABM, 4.5 ± 1.2 kPa, anterior stroma, 1.1 ± 0.6 kPa; posterior stroma, 0.38 ± 0.22 kPa; DM, 11.7 ± 7.4 kPa; and endothelium, 4.1 ± 1.7 kPa. The biophysical properties, including the elastic modulus, are unique for each layer of the rabbit cornea and are dramatically softer in comparison to the corresponding regions of the human cornea. Collagen fiber organization is also dramatically different between the two species, with markedly less intertwining observed in the rabbit vs. human cornea. Given that the substratum stiffness considerably alters the corneal cell behavior, keratoprosthetics that incorporate mechanical properties simulating the native human cornea may not elicit optimal cellular performance in rabbit corneas that have dramatically different elastic moduli. These data should allow for the design of substrates that better mimic the biomechanical properties of the corneal cellular environment.
Project description:To characterize corneal structural changes in keratoconus using a new morphogeometric approach and to evaluate its potential diagnostic ability.Comparative study including 464 eyes of 464 patients (age, 16 and 72 years) divided into two groups: control group (143 healthy eyes) and keratoconus group (321 keratoconus eyes). Topographic information (Sirius, CSO, Italy) was processed with SolidWorks v2012 and a solid model representing the geometry of each cornea was generated. The following parameters were defined: anterior (Aant) and posterior (Apost) corneal surface areas, area of the cornea within the sagittal plane passing through the Z axis and the apex (Aapexant, Aapexpost) and minimum thickness points (Amctant, Amctpost) of the anterior and posterior corneal surfaces, and average distance from the Z axis to the apex (Dapexant, Dapexpost) and minimum thickness points (Dmctant, Dmctpost) of both corneal surfaces.Significant differences among control and keratoconus group were found in Aapexant, Aapexpost, Amctant, Amctpost, Dapexant, Dapexpost (all p<0.001), Apost (p = 0.014), and Dmctpost (p = 0.035). Significant correlations in keratoconus group were found between Aant and Apost (r = 0.836), Amctant and Amctpost (r = 0.983), and Dmctant and Dmctpost (r = 0.954, all p<0.001). A logistic regression analysis revealed that the detection of keratoconus grade I (Amsler Krumeich) was related to Apost, Atot, Aapexant, Amctant, Amctpost, Dapexpost, Dmctant and Dmctpost (Hosmer-Lemeshow: p>0.05, R2 Nagelkerke: 0.926). The overall percentage of cases correctly classified by the model was 97.30%.Our morphogeometric approach based on the analysis of the cornea as a solid is useful for the characterization and detection of keratoconus.
Project description:Keratoconus (KC) is a corneal dystrophy characterized by progressive ectasia that leads to severe visual impairment and remains one of the leading indications for corneal transplantation. The etiology is believed to be multifactorial and alterations have been documented in the biomechanical, biochemical and ultrastructural characteristics of the cornea. While the exact site of disease origin is still debated, changes in the corneal epithelium are believed to occur even before the disease is clinically manifested. In this study we investigate the possible role of ?-catenin as mechanotransducer in KC corneal epithelium. The sheets of corneal epithelium removed from keratoconic eyes when they underwent collagen crosslinking as a therapeutic procedure were used for this study. The healthy corneal epithelium of patients undergoing Laser Refractive Surgery for the correction of their refractive error, served as controls. Immunoblotting and tissue immunofluorescence studies were performed on KC epithelium to analyse the expression and localization of ?-catenin, E-cadherin, ZO1, ?-catenin, Cyclin D1, ?-actinin, RhoA, and Rac123. Co-immunoprecipitation of ?-catenin followed by mass spectrometry of KC epithelium was performed to identify its interacting partners. This was further validated by using epithelial tissues grown on scaffolds of different stiffness. Histology data reported breaks in the Bowman's layer in KC patients. We hypothesize that these breaks expose the epithelium to the keratoconic corneal stroma, which, is known to have a decreased elastic modulus and that ?-catenin acts as a mechanotransducer that induces structural changes such as loss of polarity (Syntaxin3) and barrier function (ZO1) through membrane delocalization. The results of our study strongly suggest that ?-catenin could be a putative mechanotransducer in KC epithelium, thus supporting our hypothesis.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:The aim was to compare the visual, refractive, topographic and biomechanical outcomes in patients with progressive keratoconus treated with either conventional or accelerated crosslinking at one year follow up. METHODS:It is a prospective, non-randomised interventional study of 76 patients who underwent conventional (CXL; 3mW/cm2 for 30 minutes) or accelerated cross linking (KXL; 30mW/cm2 for 4 minutes) for progressive keratoconus. Baseline and postoperative visual acuity, manifest refraction, corneal topography, pachymetry, endothelial cell density and biomechanical parameters of corneal hysteresis and corneal resistance factor were evaluated and compared. RESULTS:The 2 groups were comparable in terms of uncorrected and best corrected visual acuity and spherical equivalent. Both groups showed no significant increase in K1, K2 and Kmean from baseline at 12 months. There was also no difference between the CXL and KXL group for postoperative corneal topography as well as central and minimal pachymetry up to 12 months. There was a significant increase in both corneal hysteresis (0.62mm Hg, P=0.04) and corneal resistance factor (0.91mm Hg, P=0.003) in the KXL group at 12 months but not in the CXL group. There was no significant endothelial cell loss throughout follow up in both the groups. CONCLUSION:We have established comparability of the 2 protocols in stabilizing the progression of keratoconus. Our findings also suggested an added biomechanical advantage of accelerated crosslinking at 1 year follow up.
Project description:Keratoconus is an asymmetric, bilateral, progressive noninflammatory ectasia of the cornea that affects approximately 1 in 2000 of the general population. This may cause a significant negative impact on quality of life. Corneal collagen crosslinking (CXL) is one of the recently introduced methods that have been used to decrease the progression of keratoconus, in particular, as well as other corneal-thinning processes.A total of 44 keratoconic eyes of 22 patients were enrolled in this randomized prospective study, after obtaining informed consent. In the first group, the corneal epithelium were totally removed and in the second group, the central 3 mm of epithelium was kept intact and partial removal was performed. After collagen crosslinking in both groups, comprehensive ophthalmologic examination was performed on all patients before and 6 months after the surgery. This article is registered at www.clinicaltrial.gov with registration number NCT01809977.The difference between the two groups was not statistically significant regarding postoperative corneal haziness, refraction, and visual acuity (P > 0.05). However, comparison of pre- and postoperative parameters within each group revealed that total removal of the cornea has resulted in significant improvement of K-max (P value: 0.01) and Q-value (P value: 0.009); while eyes in partial removal group had better improvement of corrected vision (P value: 0.006). Both methods had significant and similar increase in optical corneal density (P < 0.0001).In our study, keeping the central corneal epithelium intact was not beneficial for decreasing corneal haziness, however, this method caused better improvement in corrected vision. Total epithelium off technique resulted in better improvement of K-max and Q-value.
Project description:The cornea relies on its organised extracellular matrix for maintaining transparency and biomechanical strength. Studies have identified an elastic fibre system within the human posterior cornea, thought to allow for slight deformations in response to internal pressure fluctuations within the eye. However, the type of elastic fibres that exist within the cornea and their roles remain elusive. The aim of this study was to compare the distribution and organisation of the elastic fibres within the posterior peripheral mouse and human cornea, and elucidate how these fibres integrate with the trabecular meshwork, whilst characterising the distribution of their main likely components (fibrillin-1, elastin and type VI collagen) in different parts of the cornea and adjacent sclera. We identified key differences in the elastic fibre system between the human and mouse cornea. True elastic fibres (containing elastin) were identified within the human posterior peripheral cornea. Elastic fibres appeared to present as an extensive network throughout the mouse corneal stroma, but as fibrillin-rich microfibril bundles rather than true elastic fibres. However, tropoelastin staining indicated the possibility that true elastic fibres had yet to develop in the young mice studied. Differences were also apparent within the anatomy of the trabecular meshwork. The human trabecular meshwork appeared to insert between the corneal stroma and Descemet's membrane, with elastic fibres continuing into the stroma from the trabecular meshwork anterior to Descemet's membrane. Within the mouse cornea, no clear insertion point of the trabecular meshwork was seen, instead the elastic fibres within the trabecular meshwork continued into Descemet's membrane, with the trabecular meshwork joining posterior to Descemet's membrane.