The corneal wound healing response: cytokine-mediated interaction of the epithelium, stroma, and inflammatory cells

Prog Retin Eye Res. 2001 Sep;20(5):625-37. doi: 10.1016/s1350-9462(01)00008-8.


The corneal wound healing cascade is complex and involves stromal-epithelial and stromal-epithelial-immune interactions mediated by cytokines. Interleukin-1 appears to be a master modulator of many of the events involved in this cascade. Keratocyte apoptosis is the earliest stromal event noted following epithelial injury and remains a likely target for modulation of the overall wound healing response. Other processes such as epithelial mitosis and migration, stromal cell necrosis, keratocyte proliferation, myofibroblast generation, collagen deposition, and inflammatory cell infiltration contribute to the wound healing cascade and are also likely modulated by cytokines derived from corneal cells, the lacrimal gland, and possibly immune cells. Many questions remain regarding the origin and fate of different cell types that contribute to stromal wound healing. Over a period of months to years the cornea returns to a state similar to that found in the unwounded normal cornea.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Division
  • Cornea / physiology*
  • Corneal Stroma / cytology*
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Humans
  • Necrosis
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Wound Healing / physiology*


  • Cytokines