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Transplanting embryonic stem cells onto damaged human corneal endothelium

Journal article
Authors C. Hanson
A. Arnarsson
T. Hardarson
Ann Lindgård
Mandana Daneshvarnaeini
C. Ellerstrom
A. Bruun
Ulf Stenevi
Published in World Journal of Stem Cells
Volume 9
Issue 8
Pages 127-132
ISSN 1948-0210
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 127-132
Language en
Keywords Embryonic stem cells, Cornea, Descemet's membrane, Endothelium, Immunohistochemistry, Cell Biology
Subject categories Cell Biology


AIM To investigate whether human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) could be made to attach, grow and differentiate on a human Descemet's membrane (DM). Spontaneously differentiated hESCs were transferred onto a human corneal button with the endothelial layer removed using ocular sticks. The cells were cultured on a DM for up to 15 d. The genetically engineered hESC line expressed green fluorescent protein, which facilitated identification during the culture experiments, tissue preparation, and analysis. To detect any differentiation into human corneal endothelial-like cells, we analysed the transplanted cells by immunohistochemistry using specific antibodies. We found transplanted cells form a single layer of cells with a hexagonal shape in the periphery of the DM. The majority of the cells were negative for octamer-binding transcription factor 4 but positive for paired box 6 protein, sodium potassium adenosine triphosphatase (NaKATPase), and Zona Occludens protein 1. In four of the 18 trials, the transplanted cells were found to express CK3, which indicates that the stem cells differentiated into corneal epithelial cells in these cases. It is possible to get cells originating from hESCs to become established on a human DM, where they grow and differentiate into corneal endothelial-like cells in vitro.

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