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    ABSTRACT: Corneal epithelium is maintained throughout life by well-orchestrated proliferation of limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs), followed by migration and maturation centripetally towards the ocular surface. Disturbance of LESCs can potentially lead to a blinding condition, which can be reversed by reconstitution of a functional LESC pool. The current clinical procedures are effective to some degree, however, deeper knowledge of the molecular interplay within the limbal niche is necessary to achieve a fully satisfactory patient outcome. The present study was thus undertaken to carry out a comprehensive transcriptome analysis of four distinct human limbal compartments, including basal limbal crypts (BLCs), superficial limbal crypts (SLCs), cornea, and the supporting stroma, with the aid of laser capture microdissection and deep RNA sequencing. The tissue harvest pipeline was rigorously optimized so that the exposure to cold ischemia would be less than five minutes. The global gene ontology analysis confirmed existence of primitive cells in BLCs, migratory and activated cells in SLCs, and differentiated cells in cornea. Interestingly, many significantly upregulated genes in SLCs mapped to processes involved in regulation of vasculature, such as sFLT1. In contrast, BLCs exhibited many genes mapping to neurogenic processes and processes related to cell development. The primitive nature of BLCs was, furthermore, confirmed by the KEGG pathway analysis, and some potential regulators of LESCs were revealed, such as Lrig1 and SOX9. The analysis also yielded comprehensive lists of uniquely expressed genes in both BLCs and cornea, which may be useful to identify possible biomarkers. In conclusion, the current investigation provides new insight into the relationship between distinct cell populations within the limbal niche, identifies candidates to be verified for novel biological functions, and yields a wealth of information for prospective data mining.
    PLoS ONE 11/2013; 8(5):e64244. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A simple, reproducible, animal-material free method for cultivating and characterizing cornea limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs) on human lens capsule (LC) was developed for future clinical transplantation. The limbal tissue explants (2×2×0.25 mm) were harvested from 77 cadavers and expanded ex vivo on either cell culture plates or LC in medium containing human serum as the only growth supplement. Cell outgrowth at the edge of the explants was observed within 24 hours of cultivation and achieved viable outgrowth (>97% viability as measured by MTT assay and flow cytometry) within two weeks. The outgrowing cells were examined by genome-wide microarray including markers of stemness (p63α, ABCG2, CK19, Vimentin and Integrin α9), proliferation (Ki-67), limbal epithelial cells (CK 8/18 and 14) and differentiated cornea epithelial cells (CK 3 and 12). Immunostaining revealed the non-hematopoietic, -endothelial and -mesenchymal stem cell phenotype of the LESCs and the localization of specific markers in situ. Cell adhesion molecules, integrins and lectin-based surface carbohydrate profiling showed a specific pattern on these cells, while colony-formation assay confirmed their clonal potency. The LESCs expressed a specific surface marker fingerprint (CD117/c-kit, CXCR4, CD144/VE-Cadherin, CD146/MCAM, CD166/ALCAM, and surface carbohydrates: WGA, ConA, RCA, PNA and AIL) which can be used for better localization of the limbal stem cell niche. In summary, we report a novel method combining the use of a medium with human serum as the only growth supplement with LC for cultivating, characterizing and expanding cornea LESCs from cadavers or alternatively from autologous donors for possible treatment of LESC deficiency.
    PLoS ONE 09/2012; 7(10):e47187. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recent breakthroughs in regenerative medicine have generated enthusiasm and many efforts to explore new therapeutic potentials of both somatic and pluripotent stem cells. About 30 years passed since a discovery of a method of producing a great number of human epidermal keratinocytes by cultivation from a small skin biopsy, many possibilities are now envisaged for therapeutic application of different cultured cell types. The importance of stem cell content was proven for many tissues or organs in different pathologies. Ocular burns cause depletion of limbal stem cells, which lead to corneal opacification and visual loss. Most of available treatments are palliative and focused on the relief of the devastating clinical picture. This review is focused on recent developments cell based therapy of limbal stem cell deficiency. All findings can provide support for improvement and standardization of the cure for this disabling disease. Stem Cells 2013.
    Stem Cells 08/2013; · 7.70 Impact Factor