[Physiology of the human corneal endothelium--new insights from electrophysiological investigations].
ABSTRACT Currently, the identification of apoptotic or damaged human corneal endothelial (HCE) cells is limited to a morphological assessment and vital staining. Specific electrophysiological investigations may prospectively help to identify damaged HCE cells at an earlier stage. Besides calcium imaging, the so-called patch-clamp technique is an important test method enabling one to assay the effect of various substances on ion channels and receptors of the cell membrane. First electrophysiological pilot experiments with cultivated and freshly isolated HCE cells have revealed promising results. In this way, the expression of certain transient receptor potential channels (TRPs) could be demonstrated. However, the function of these channels is still not fully elucidated. In humans, TRPs play a crucial role in the sense of taste, pheromones, temperature and pain and are involved in osmolarity. This review summarises the current literature on the electrophysiology of the human corneal endothelium and deduces potential approaches to a sensitive vitality and function test under utilisation of the electrophysiological properties of HCE cells.