Universal Corneal Epithelial-Like Cells Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells for Cellularization of a Corneal Scaffold.
ABSTRACT: Purpose:We generated universal corneal epithelial cells (CEC) from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) by genetically removing human leukocyte antigens (HLA) class I from the cell surface. Methods:The serum-free, growth factor-free, and defined medium E6 was used to differentiate hESC to CEC. Decellularized murine corneas were recellularized with hESC-derived CEC. Using CRISPR/Cas9, ?-2-microglobulin (B2M) was deleted in hESC to block the assembly of HLA class-I antigens on the cell surface to generate B2M -/- CEC. Results:E6 alone was sufficient to allow hESC differentiation to CEC. A time-course analysis of the global gene expression of the differentiating cells indicates that the differentiation closely resembles the corneal development in vivo. The hESC-CEC were highly proliferative, and could form multilayer epithelium in decellularized murine cornea, retain its transparency, and form intact tight junctions on its surface. As reported before, B2M knockout led to the absence of HLA class-I on the cell surface of hESC and subsequently derived CEC following stimulation with inflammatory factors. Moreover, B2M -/- CEC, following transplantation into mouse eyes, caused less T-cell infiltration in the limbal region of the eye than the wild-type control. Conclusions:CEC can be derived from hESC via a novel and simple protocol free of any proteins, hESC-CEC seeded on decellularized animal cornea form tight junctions and allow light transmittance, and B2M -/- CEC are hypoimmunogenic both in vitro and in vivo. Translational Relevance:B2M -/- hESC-CEC can be an unlimited and universal therapy for corneal repair in patients of any HLA type.
Project description:Purpose:To establish Myh11 as a marker of a subset of corneal endothelial cells (CECs), and to demonstrate the feasibility of restoring the corneal endothelium with Myh11-lineage (Myh11-Lin[+]) adipose-derived stromal cells (ASCs). Methods:Intraperitoneal administration of tamoxifen and (Z)-4-hydroxytamoxifen eyedrops were used to trace the lineage of Myh11-expressing cells with the Myh11-Cre-ERT2-flox-tdTomato mouse model. Immunostaining and Western blot characterized marker expression and spatial distribution of Myh11-Lin(+) cells in the cornea, and administration of 5-ethynyl-2'-deoxyuridine labeled proliferating cells. ASCs were isolated from epididymal adipose Myh11+ mural cells and treated with cornea differentiation media to evaluate corneal endothelial differentiation potential. Differentiated ASCs were injected into the anterior chamber to test for incorporation into corneal endothelium following scratch injury. Results:A subset of CECs express Myh11, a marker previously thought restricted to only mural cells. Myh11-Lin(+) CECs marked a stable subpopulation of cells in the cornea endothelium. Myh11-Lin(+) ASCs undergo CEC differentiation in vitro and incorporate into injured corneal endothelium. Conclusions:Dystrophy and dysfunction of the corneal endothelium accounts for almost half of all corneal transplants, the maintenance of the cornea endothelium is poorly understood, and there are a lack of mouse models to study specific CEC populations. We establish a mouse model that can trace the cell fate of a subpopulation of CECs based on Myh11 expression. A subset of ASCs that share this Myh11 transcriptional lineage are capable of differentiating into CECs that can incorporate into injured corneal endothelium, revealing a potential cell source for creating engineered transplant material.
Project description:Allogenic transplants of the cornea are prone to rejection, especially in repetitive transplantation and in scarred or highly vascularized recipient sites. Patients with these ailments would particularly benefit from the possibility to use non-immunogenic decellularized tissue scaffolds for transplantation, which may be repopulated by host cells in situ or in vitro. So, the aim of this study was to develop a fast and efficient decellularization method for creating a human corneal extracellular matrix scaffold suitable for repopulation with human cells from the corneal limbus. To decellularize human donor corneas, sodium deoxycholate, deoxyribonuclease I, and dextran were assessed to remove cells and nuclei and to control tissue swelling, respectively. We evaluated the decellularization effects on the ultrastructure, optical, mechanical, and biological properties of the human cornea. Scaffold recellularization was studied using primary human limbal epithelial cells, stromal cells, and melanocytes in vitro and a lamellar transplantation approach ex vivo. Our data strongly suggest that this approach allowed the effective removal of cellular and nuclear material in a very short period of time while preserving extracellular matrix proteins, glycosaminoglycans, tissue structure, and optical transmission properties. In vitro recellularization demonstrated good biocompatibility of the decellularized human cornea and ex vivo transplantation revealed complete epithelialization and stromal repopulation from the host tissue. Thus, the generated decellularized human corneal scaffold could be a promising biological material for anterior corneal reconstruction in the treatment of corneal defects.
Project description:Corneal endothelial dysfunction occurs when corneal endothelial cells (CECs) are dramatically lost and eventually results in vision loss. Corneal transplantation is the only solution at present. However, corneal transplantation requires a fresh human cornea and there is a worldwide shortage of donors. Therefore, finding new functional CECs to replace human CECs is urgent. Skin-derived precursors (SKPs) can be easily acquired and have multiple differential potential. We co-cultured human SKPs with B4G12 cells in serum-free medium and obtained abundant CEC-like cells which had similar morphology and characteristic to human CECs. CEC-like cells exerted excellent therapeutic effect when they were transplanted into rabbit and monkey corneal endothelial dysfunction models by injection method. This protocol enables efficient production of CEC-like cells from SKPs. The renewable cell source, novel derivation method and simple treatment strategy may lead to potential applications in cell replacement therapy for corneal endothelial dysfunction.
Project description:Corneal endothelial cells (CECs) are very important for the maintenance of corneal transparency. However, in vitro, CECs display limited proliferation and loss of phenotype via endothelial to mesenchymal transformation (EMT) and cellular senescence. In this study, we demonstrate that continuous supplementary nutrition using a perfusion culture bioreactor and three-dimensional (3D) spheroid culture can be used to improve CEC expansion in culture and to construct a tissue-engineered CEC layer. Compared with static culture, perfusion-derived CECs exhibited an increased proliferative ability as well as formed close cell-cell contact junctions and numerous surface microvilli. We also demonstrated that the CEC spheroid culture significantly down-regulated gene expression of the proliferation marker Ki67 and EMT-related markers Vimentin and ?-SMA, whereas the gene expression level of the CEC marker ATP1A1 was significantly up-regulated. Furthermore, use of the perfusion system in conjunction with a spheroid culture on decellularized corneal scaffolds and collagen sheets promoted the generation of CEC monolayers as well as neo-synthesized ECM formation. This study also confirmed that a CEC spheroid culture on a curved collagen sheet with controlled physiological intraocular pressure could generate a CEC monolayer. Thus, our results show that the use of a perfusion system and 3D spheroid culture can promote CEC expansion and the construction of tissue-engineered corneal endothelial layers in vitro.
Project description:Descemet's membrane (DM) helps maintain phenotype and function of corneal endothelial cells under physiological conditions, while little is known about the function of DM in corneal endothelial wound healing process. In the current study, we performed in vivo rabbit corneal endothelial cell (CEC) injury via CEC scraping, in which DM remained intact after CECs removal, or via DM stripping, in which DM was removed together with CECs. We found rabbit corneas in the CEC scraping group healed with transparency restoration, while there was posterior fibrosis tissue formation in the corneas after DM stripping on day 14. Following CEC scraping on day 3, cells that had migrated toward the central cornea underwent a transient fibrotic endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which was reversed back to an endothelial phenotype on day 14. However, in the corneas injured via DM stripping, most of the cells in the posterior fibrosis tissue did not originate from the corneal endothelium, and they maintained fibroblastic phenotype on day 14. We concluded that corneal endothelial wound healing in rabbits has different outcomes depending upon the presence or absence of Descemet's membrane. Descemet's membrane supports corneal endothelial cell regeneration in rabbits after endothelial injury.
Project description:To address the shortcomings associated with corneal transplants, substantial efforts have been focused on developing new modalities such as xenotransplantion. Xenogeneic corneas are anatomically and biomechanically similar to the human cornea, yet their applications require prior decellularization to remove the antigenic components to avoid rejection. In the context of bringing decellularized corneas into clinical use, sterilization is a crucial step that determines the success of the transplantation. Well-standardized sterilization methods, such as gamma irradiation (GI), have been applied to decellularized porcine corneas (DPC) to avoid graft-associated infections in human recipients. However, little is known about the effect of GI on decellularized corneal xenografts. Here, we evaluated the radiation effect on the ultrastructure, optical, mechanical and biological properties of DPC. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that gamma irradiated decellularized porcine cornea (G-DPC) preserved its structural integrity. Moreover, the radiation did not reduce the optical properties of the tissue. Neither DPC nor G-DPC led to further activation of complement system compared to native porcine cornea when exposed to plasma. Although, DPC were mechanically comparable to the native tissue, GI increased the mechanical strength, tissue hydrophobicity and resistance to enzymatic degradation. Despite these changes, human corneal epithelial, stromal, endothelial and hybrid neuroblastoma cells grew and differentiated on DPC and G-DPC. Thus, GI may achieve effective tissue sterilization without affecting critical properties that are essential for corneal transplant survival.
Project description:Acacia honey (AH) has been proven to improve skin wound healing, but its therapeutic effects on corneal epithelium has not been elucidated to date. This study aimed to investigate the effects of AH on cultured corneal epithelial cells (CEC) on in vitro corneal abrasion wound healing model. Six New Zealand white rabbits' CEC were isolated and cultured until passage 1. Circular wound area was created onto a confluent monolayer CEC using a corneal trephine which mimicked corneal abrasion and treated with 0.025% AH supplemented in basal medium (BM) and complete cornea medium (CCM). Wound healing was measured as the percentage of wound closure by the migration of CEC on day 0, day 3 and day 6, post wound creation. The morphological changes of CEC were assessed via phase contrast microscopy. Gene and protein expressions of cytokeratin (CK3), fibronectin and cluster of differentiation 44 (CD44) in AH treated groups and control groups were determined by real-time PCR and immunocytochemistry, respectively.Cultured CEC exhibited similar morphology of polygonal shaped cells in all culture media. CEC cultured in AH-supplemented media showed higher percentage of wound closure compared to the controls. Gene expression of CK3 increased in AH-supplemented groups throughout the study. Fibronectin expression was increased at the initial stage while CD44 expression was increased at day 3, post wound creation. The protein expression of CEC cultured in all media was in accordance to their respective gene expressions.Supplementation of AH in BM and CCM media accelerates CEC wound closure of the in vitro corneal abrasion model by increasing the expression of genes and proteins associated with CEC wound healing.
Project description:Corneal transparency is maintained by the corneal endothelium through its pump and barrier function. Severe corneal endothelial damage results in dysregulation of water flow and eventually causes corneal haziness and deterioration of visual function. In 2013, we initiated clinical research of cell-based therapy for treating corneal decompensation. In that study, we removed an 8-mm diameter section of damaged corneal endothelium without removing Descemet's membrane (the basement membrane of the corneal endothelium) and then injected cultured human corneal endothelial cells (CECs) into the anterior chamber. However, Descemet's membrane exhibits clinically abnormal structural features [i.e., multiple collagenous excrescences (guttae) and thickening] in patients with Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy (FECD) and the advanced cornea guttae adversely affects the quality of vision, even in patients without corneal edema. The turnover time of cornea guttae is also not certain. Therefore, we used a rabbit model to evaluate the feasibility of Descemet's membrane removal in the optical zone only, by performing a small 4-mm diameter descemetorhexis prior to CEC injection. We showed that the corneal endothelium is regenerated both on the corneal stroma (the area of Descemet's membrane removal) and on the intact peripheral Descemet's membrane, based on the expression of function-related markers and the restoration of corneal transparency. Recovery of the corneal transparency and central corneal thickness was delayed in areas of Descemet's membrane removal, but the cell density of the regenerated corneal endothelium and the thickness of the central corneal did not differ between the areas with and without residual Descemet's membrane at 14 days after CEC injection. Here, we demonstrate that removal of a pathological Descemet's membrane by a small descemetorhexis is a feasible procedure for use in combination with cell-based therapy. The current strategy might be beneficial for improving visual quality after CEC injection as a treatment for FECD.
Project description:Hexagonal-shaped human corneal endothelial cells (HCEC) form a monolayer by adhering tightly through their intercellular adhesion molecules. Located at the posterior corneal surface, they maintain corneal translucency by dehydrating the corneal stroma, mainly through the Na(+)- and K(+)-dependent ATPase (Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase). Because HCEC proliferative activity is low in vivo, once HCEC are damaged and their numbers decrease, the cornea begins to show opacity due to overhydration, resulting in loss of vision. HCEC cell cycle arrest occurs at the G1 phase and is partly regulated by cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors (CKIs) in the Rb pathway (p16-CDK4/CyclinD1-pRb). In this study, we tried to activate proliferation of HCEC by inhibiting CKIs. Retroviral transduction was used to generate two new HCEC lines: transduced human corneal endothelial cell by human papillomavirus type E6/E7 (THCEC (E6/E7)) and transduced human corneal endothelial cell by Cdk4R24C/CyclinD1 (THCEH (Cyclin)). Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis of gene expression revealed little difference between THCEC (E6/E7), THCEH (Cyclin) and non-transduced HCEC, but cell cycle-related genes were up-regulated in THCEC (E6/E7) and THCEH (Cyclin). THCEH (Cyclin) expressed intercellular molecules including ZO-1 and N-cadherin and showed similar Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase pump function to HCEC, which was not demonstrated in THCEC (E6/E7). This study shows that HCEC cell cycle activation can be achieved by inhibiting CKIs even while maintaining critical pump function and morphology.
Project description:To overcome the serious shortage of donor corneas for transplantation, alternatives based on tissue engineering need to be developed. Decellularized corneas are one potential alternative, but their densely packed collagen architecture inhibits recellularization in vitro. Therefore, a new rapid method of recellularizing these constructs to ensure high cellularity throughout the collagen scaffold is needed. In this study, we developed a novel method for fabricating corneal constructs by using decellularized porcine corneal sheets assembled using a bottom-up approach by layering multiple sheets between cell-laden collagen I hydrogel. Corneal lenticules were cut from porcine corneas by cryosectioning, then decellularized with detergents and air-dried for storage as sheets. Human corneal stromal cells were encapsulated in collagen I hydrogel and cast between the dried sheets. Constructs were cultured in serum-free medium supplemented with ascorbic acid and insulin for 2 weeks. Epithelial cells were then seeded on the surface and cultured for an additional week. Transparency, cell viability, and phenotype were analyzed by qPCR, histology, and immunofluorescence. Constructs without epithelial cells were sutured onto an ex vivo porcine cornea and cultured for 1 week. Lenticules were successfully decellularized, achieving dsDNA values of 13?±?1.2?ng/mg dry tissue, and were more resistant to degradation than the collagen I hydrogels. Constructs maintained high cell viability with a keratocyte-like phenotype with upregulation of keratocan, decorin, lumican, collagen I, ALDH3A1, and CD34 and the corneal epithelial cells stratified with a cobblestone morphology. The construct was amenable to surgical handling and no tearing occurred during suturing. After 7 days ex vivo, constructs were covered by a neoepithelium from the host porcine cells and integration into the host stroma was observed. This study describes a novel approach toward fabricating anterior corneal substitutes in a simple and rapid manner, obtaining mature and suturable constructs using only tissue-derived materials.