Optimisation of Storage and Transportation Conditions of Cultured Corneal Endothelial Cells for Cell Replacement Therapy.
ABSTRACT: As the cornea is one of the most transplanted tissues in the body it has placed a burden on the provision of corneas from cadaveric donors. Corneal endothelial dysfunction is the leading indication for cornea transplant. Therefore, tissue engineering is emerging as an alternative approach to overcome the global shortage of transplant-grade corneas. The propagation and expansion of corneal endothelial cells has been widely reported. However, one obstacle to overcome is the transport and storage of corneal endothelial cells. In this study we investigated whether tissue engineered corneal endothelial cells can be preserved in hypothermic conditions. Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) were exposed to various temperatures (4?°C, 23?°C, and 37?°C) in both adherent and suspension storage models. Optimal storage media and storage duration was tested along with post-storage viability. Following storage and subsequent recovery at 37?°C, cell phenotype was assessed by immunofluorescence, gene and protein expression, and proliferative capacity analysis. Functionality was also assessed within a rabbit model of bullous keratopathy. Our data support our hypothesis that functional HCEnCs can be preserved in hypothermic conditions.
Project description:PURPOSE:To determine how nonsense mutations in the transcription factor ZEB1 lead to the development of posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy type 3 (PPCD3). METHODS:Whole-cell extracts were obtained from cultured human corneal epithelial cells (HCEpCs) as a source of ZEB1 protein. DNA-binding assays were performed using the whole-cell extract and oligonucleotide probes consisting of the two conserved E2-box motifs and surrounding nucleotides upstream of COL4A3. ZEB1 and COL4A3 mRNA expression in primary human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) was assayed in both PPCD3 and control corneas by RT-PCR. Immunohistochemistry was used to localize ZEB1 and COL4A3 expression in normal human cornea. RESULTS:Electromobility shift assays (EMSAs) and competition EMSAs demonstrated binding of protein(s) in the cultured HCEpCs to the E2-box motifs in the probes. The supershift EMSA confirmed that ZEB1, demonstrated to be present in the whole-cell extracts, binds to both the proximal and distal E2-box motifs in the COL4A3 promoter region. Both COL4A3 and ZEB1 are expressed in normal HCEnCs, although in PPCD3, ZEB1 expression is decreased and COL4A3 expression is increased compared with levels of both genes in healthy control corneas. CONCLUSIONS:Inversely related HCEnC expression levels of ZEB1 and COL4A3 in PPCD3 indicate that ZEB1-mediated alterations in COL4A3 expression are most likely associated with the pathogenesis of this corneal endothelial dystrophy. However, the demonstration of COL4A3 expression in healthy adult primary HCEnCs suggests that PPCD3 is more likely to involve an alteration in the timing and/or degree of COL4A3 expression than to result from the dichotomous change implied by the previously proposed ectopic expression model.
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:BACKGROUND:Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, fatal, neurodegenerative prion disease potentially transmissible through corneal transplantation. While statistical analyses performed two decades ago estimated the overall prevalence of CJD in the corneal donor pool to be low, the recent significant increase in corneal transplants performed and deaths due to CJD in the U.S. warrants a contemporary risk analysis. METHODS:A literature review was conducted to determine the overall number of globally reported cases of CJD transmission through corneal transplantation. U.S. mortality and cornea donation data were utilized to estimate the age-stratified prevalence of undiagnosed, latent CJD in the cornea donor pool in 2018. A historical statistical analysis was performed to estimate the number of corneas from donors with latent CJD entering the U.S. donor pool for each year between 1979 and 2018. From these statistical analyses, risk factors of iatrogenic transmission were identified and summarized. RESULTS:Ten reported cases of iatrogenic transmission of CJD through corneal transplants were identified globally. In 2018, an estimated 3.8 corneas from donors with undiagnosed latent CJD potentially entered the pool of 111,703 transplant-intended corneas harvested from individuals aged 31-80. Between 1979 and 2018, an estimated 47 corneas may have entered the U.S. transplant-intended pool from donors with latent CJD aged 35 to 84. The advanced age of donors and a history of multiple transplants in recipients were both prominent risk factors for iatrogenic transmission. CONCLUSIONS:The 10 reported global cases of iatrogenic transmission likely under-represent the number of individuals with a coinciding history of death by CJD and prior corneal transplantation, as supported by our statistical analysis and lack of geographical diversity of reported cases. As effective screening methods develop and globalization of cornea transplantation broadens, it is of utmost importance that cornea transplantation history among victims of CJD should be investigated and reported.
Project description:Human corneal endothelial cells (HCEnCs) form a monolayer of hexagonal cells whose main function is to maintain corneal clarity by regulating corneal hydration. HCEnCs are derived from neural crest and are arrested in the post-mitotic state. Thus cell loss due to aging or corneal endothelial disorders leads to corneal edema and blindness-the leading indication for corneal transplantation. Here we show the existence of morphologically distinct subpopulations of HCEnCs that are interspersed among primary cells and exhibit enhanced self-renewal competence and lack of phenotypic signs of cellular senescence. Colonies of these uniform and hexagonal HCEnCs (HCEnC-21) were selectively isolated and demonstrated high proliferative potential that was dependent on endogenous upregulation of telomerase and cyclin D/CDK4. Further transduction of HCEnC-21 with telomerase yielded a highly proliferative corneal endothelial cell line (HCEnT-21T) that was devoid of oncogenic transformation and retained critical corneal endothelial cell characteristics and functionality. This study will significantly impact the fields of corneal cell biology and regenerative medicine.
Project description:The aim of this study was to describe the aims, methods, donor and recipient cohort characteristics, and potential impact of the Cornea Preservation Time Study (CPTS).The CPTS is a randomized clinical trial conducted at 40 clinical sites (70 surgeons) designed to assess the effect of donor cornea preservation time (PT) on graft survival 3 years after Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty (DSAEK). Eyes undergoing surgery for Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy or pseudophakic/aphakic corneal edema were randomized to receive donor corneas stored ?7 days or 8 to 14 days. Donor and patient characteristics, tissue preparation and surgical parameters, recipient and donor corneal stroma clarity, central corneal thickness, intraocular pressure, complications, and a reading center-determined central endothelial cell density were collected. Surveys were conducted to evaluate pre-CPTS PT practices.The 1330 CPTS donors were: 49% >60 years old, 27% diabetic, had a median eye bank-determined screening endothelial cell density of 2688 cells/mm, and 74% eye bank prepared for DSAEK. A total of 1090 recipients (1330 eyes including 240 bilateral cases) had: median age of 70 years, were 60% female, 90% white, 18% diabetic, 52% phakic, and 94% had Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy. Before the CPTS, 19 eye banks provided PT data on 20,852 corneas domestically placed for DSAEK in 2010 to 2011; 96% were preserved ?7 days. Of 305 American Academy of Ophthalmology members responding to a pre-CPTS survey, 233 (76%) set their maximum PT preference at 8 days or less.The CPTS will increase understanding of factors related to DSAEK success and, if noninferiority of longer PT is shown, will have great potential to extend the available pool of endothelial keratoplasty donors.Clinical Trial Registration-URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT01537393.
Project description:Considerable interest has been generated for the development through cell-tissue engineering of suitable corneal endothelial graft alternatives, which can potentially alleviate the shortage of corneal transplant material. The advent of less invasive suture-less key-hole surgery options such as Descemet’s Stripping Endothelial Keratoplasty (DSEK) and Descemet’s Membrane Endothelial Keratoplasty (DMEK), which involve transplantation of solely the endothelial layer instead of full thickness cornea, provide further impetus for the development of alternative endothelial grafts for clinical applications. A major challenge for this endeavor is the lack of specific markers for this cell type. To identify genes that reliably mark corneal endothelial cells (CECs) in vivo and in vitro, we performed RNA-sequencing on freshly isolated human CECs (from both young and old donors), CEC cultures, and corneal stroma. Gene expression of these corneal cell types were also compared to that of other human tissue types. Based on high throughput comparative gene expression analysis, we identified a panel of markers that are: i) highly expressed in CECs from both young donors and old donors; ii) expressed in CECs in vivo and in vitro; and iii) not expressed in corneal stroma keratocytes and the activated corneal stroma fibroblasts. These were SLC4A11, COL8A2 and CYYR1. The use of this panel of genes in combination reliably ascertains the identity of the CEC cell type. A total of 20 donor corneas consisting of 10 single donor corneas and 5 paired donor corneas were used in this study. Donor age ranged from 19 - 76. This RNA-seq study included 15 pooled corneas (5 each) used form CEC old, CEC young and stroma samples.
Project description:Purpose:The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of removal of Descemet's basement membrane and endothelium compared with removal of the endothelium alone on posterior corneal fibrosis. Methods:Twelve New Zealand White rabbits were included in the study. Six eyes had removal of the Descemet's membrane-endothelial complex over the central 8 mm of the cornea. Six eyes had endothelial removal with an olive-tipped cannula over the central 8 mm of the cornea. All corneas developed stromal edema. Corneas in both groups were cryofixed in optimum cutting temperature (OCT) formula at 1 month after surgery. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed for α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), keratocan, CD45, nidogen-1, vimentin, and Ki-67, and a TUNEL assay was performed to detect apoptosis. Results:Six of six corneas that had Descemet's membrane-endothelial removal developed posterior stromal fibrosis populated with SMA+ myofibroblasts, whereas zero of six corneas that had endothelial removal alone developed fibrosis or SMA+ myofibroblasts (P < 0.01). Myofibroblasts in the fibrotic zone of corneas that had Descemet's membrane-endothelial removal were undergoing both mitosis and apoptosis at 1 month after surgery. A zone between keratocan+ keratocytes and SMA+ myofibroblasts contained keratocan-SMA-vimentin+ cells that were likely CD45- corneal fibroblasts and CD45+ fibrocytes. Conclusions:Descemet's basement membrane has an important role in modulating posterior corneal fibrosis after injury that is analogous to the role of the epithelial basement membrane in modulating anterior corneal fibrosis after injury. Fibrotic areas had myofibroblasts undergoing mitosis and apoptosis, indicating that fibrosis is in dynamic flux.
Project description:Corneas with severe pathologies have a high risk of rejection when conventionally grafted with human donor tissues. In this early observational study, we grafted bioengineered corneal implants made from recombinant human collagen and synthetic phosphorylcholine polymer into three patients for whom donor cornea transplantation carried a high risk of transplant failure. These patients suffered from corneal ulcers and recurrent erosions preoperatively. The implants provided relief from pain and discomfort, restored corneal integrity by promoting endogenous regeneration of corneal tissues, and improved vision in two of three patients. Such implants could in the future be alternatives to donor corneas for high-risk patients, and therefore, merits further testing in a clinical trial.
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:This study was performed to determine whether cells in the posterior stroma undergo apoptosis in response to endothelial cell injury and to determine whether basement membrane component nidogen-1 was present in the cornea. New Zealand White rabbits had an olive tip cannula inserted into the anterior chamber to mechanically injure corneal endothelial cells over an 8 mm diameter area of central cornea with minimal injury to Descemet's membrane. At 1 h (6 rabbits) and 4 h (6 rabbits) after injury, three corneas at each time point were cryopreserved in OCT for terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay and immunohistochemistry (IHC) for vimentin and nidogen-1, and three corneas at each time point were fixed for transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Uninjured corneas were controls. Stromal cells over approximately the posterior 25% of the stroma overlying to the site of corneal endothelial injury underwent apoptosis detected by the TUNEL assay. Many of these apoptotic cells were vimentin+, suggesting they were likely keratocytes or corneal fibroblasts. Stromal cells peripheral to the site of endothelial injury and more anterior stromal cells overlying the site of endothelial injury did not undergo apoptosis. Stromal cell death was confirmed to be apoptosis by TEM. No apoptosis of stromal cells was detected in control, uninjured corneas. Nidogen-1 was detected in the stroma of unwounded corneas, with higher nidogen-1 in the posterior stroma than the anterior stroma. After endothelial scrape injury, concentrations of nidogen-1 appeared to be in the extracellular matrix of the posterior stroma and, possibly, within apoptotic bodies of stromal cells. Thus, posterior stromal cells, likely including keratocytes, undergo apoptosis in response to corneal endothelial injury, analogous to anterior keratocytes undergoing apoptosis in response to epithelial injury.