Can we produce a human corneal equivalent by tissue engineering?

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2000 Sep;19(5):497-527. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(00)00005-7.


Tissue engineering is progressing rapidly. Bioengineered substitutes are already available for experimental applications and some clinical purposes such as skin replacement. This review focuses on the development of reconstructed human cornea in vitro by tissue engineering. Key elements to consider in the corneal reconstruction, such as the source for epithelial cells and keratocytes, are discussed and the various steps of production are presented. Since one application of this human model is to obtain a better understanding of corneal wound healing, the mechanisms of this phenomenon as well as the function played both by membrane-bound integrins and components from the extracellular matrix have also been addressed. The analysis of integrins by immunohistofluorescence labelling of our reconstructed human cornea revealed that beta(1), alpha(3), alpha(5), and alpha(6) integrin subunits were expressed but alpha(4) was not. Laminin, type VII collagen and fibronectin were also detected. Finally, the future challenges of corneal reconstruction by tissue engineering are discussed and the tremendous applications of such tissue produced in vitro for experimental as well as clinical purposes are considered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Engineering*
  • Cornea* / metabolism
  • Corneal Injuries
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism
  • Wound Healing
  • Wounds and Injuries / physiopathology


  • Integrins