Amniotic membrane (AM) contains basement membrane components and various proteinase inhibitors. Furthermore, when used as a graft, the basement membrane of AM could block inflammatory insults to a damaged corneal surface. Thus, we evaluated whether amniotic membrane patching could promote the healing process by inhibiting proteolytic damage. Alkali wounds were inflicted on the central corneas of rabbits by applying a round filter paper, 6.0 mm in diameter, soaked in 1 N NaOH for 30 sec. Amniotic membrane patching was performed over the perilimbal sclera immediately after wounding. A total of 115 rabbits were divided into four groups: (1) immediately covered by AM with the amnion cell side down up to the perilimbal sclera (n =26); (2) covered by AM with the stromal side down up to the perilimbal sclera (n =19); (3) anchored to the fornix (n =29); and (4) uncovered as a control (n =41). AM was removed 3 days postoperatively. During follow-ups, epithelial defects, corneal thickness and its opacity of each eye were measured. Some corneas were removed for histopathologic studies and for proteinase activity assay and zymography. The epithelial healing was faster and the corneal thickness was thicker in all three AM-covered groups than in the control (P<0.05). No significant difference was found between covered and anchored groups (P>0.05). Corneal opacity was least in the amnion cell side down group. Infiltration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) was much less in AM-covered groups than in the control. Pathological results were associated with zymographic findings, which revealed much higher proteinase activity in uncovered group than AM-covered groups. Immediate intervention for acute alkali burns with AM as a temporary patch promotes wound healing by inhibiting proteinase activity and PMNs infiltration.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.