Purpose: To replicate the extracellular matrix underlying the anterior corneal epithelium with synthetic materials for anatomical study and (potentially) to improve epithelial cell behavior in corneal prosthetics. Methods: Freshly excised 5mm central corneal buttons from young adult Rhesus macaques were incubated in Dispase II or EDTA for variable time periods. The anterior corneal epithelium was completely removed using meticulous dissection to expose the underlying basement membrane, and the corneal button placed in a molding chamber. A methacrylate prepolymer was introduced into the chamber and allowed to polymerize. Tissue was then digested away and the resultant topographically inverse surface replica was imaged with high resolution SEM and compared to corneal tissue processed by conventional methods. The inverse replicas are then used as templates for preparing positive replicas of the matrix. Results: EDTA was superior to Dispase II by exposing cell-free matrix with minimal handling, and synthetic replica topography mimicked tissue morphology from the gross to the macromolecular scale (circa 50 nm). Conclusions: The nano-scale topography of the anterior corneal epithelial matrix may be fabricated with synthetic polymers, and hence recreate the 3-D structural-mechanical cellular environment of native tissue. Such biomimetic synthetic matrixes will be useful in examining surface topology effects on the anterior corneal epithelium, and may find application in improving cellular adhesion on corneal prosthetics. Support: NEI EY 10841-01, Whitaker Foundation. PrI: None.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science|
|State||Published - Feb 15 1996|
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