Photochemical tissue bonding: a potential strategy for treating limbal stem cell deficiency.
ABSTRACT To determine the feasibility of attaching human amniotic membrane (HAM), pre-cultured with limbal stem cells (LSCs), to cornea using a novel, light-activated tissue bonding method.
LSCs were isolated from rabbit eyes, and then cultured on de-epithelialized HAM to create grafts (HAM/LSC). These were then transplanted onto rabbit eyes with surgically created limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). The grafts were secured either by sutures or by a light-activated method called photochemical tissue bonding (PTB). Outcomes included corneal opacity, inflammation, neovascularization, and collagen alignment.
The isolated and cultured cells were verified to be LSCs based on their K19+/intergrin β1+/P63+/K3 profile. Securing the HAM/LSC graft with PTB provided better outcomes. At 28 days post-surgery, the corneal opacity scores were significantly lower after securing the graft with PTB compared with suture attachment (0.8 ± 0.5 vs. 1.8 ± 0.5, P < 0.01). Similarly, neovascularization scores were lower after PTB (0.8 ± 0.5 vs. 1.5 ± 0.6, P < 0.01). Quantification of MPO and CD31 levels from immunofluorecent staining indicated that PTB stimulated less neutrophil infiltration (5.3 ± 2.2 vs. 13.3 ± 3.1, P < 0.01) and less new blood vessels formation (2.0 ± 0.8 vs. 6.3 ± 1.3, P < 0.01) at the wound site. The collagen alignment in PTB-treated corneas, as shown by immunofluorescence and second harmonic generation image, was better organized in the PTB-treated group than in the suture group.
Bonding LSC grafts with PTB produced improved outcomes compared to suture attachment. This light-activated method is a promising modality for treating patients with LSCD.