Apoptosis, necrosis, proliferation, and myofibroblast generation in the stroma following LASIK and PRK

Exp Eye Res. 2003 Jan;76(1):71-87. doi: 10.1016/s0014-4835(02)00251-8.


The aim of this study was to semi-quantitatively analyze stromal cell apoptosis, stromal cell proliferation, and myofibroblast generation over time points from 4hr to 3 months in rabbit eyes having photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) or laser in situ keratomeliusis (LASIK). Stromal cell necrosis and inflammatory cell infiltration were also studied. PRK for low myopia (-4.5diopters [D]), PRK for high myopia (-9.0D), and LASIK for high myopia (-9.0D) were performed in rabbit eyes, and corneas were obtained for examination at 4, 24, and 72hr, 1 and 4 weeks, and 3 months after surgery. A total of 144 rabbits were included in the study. Stromal cell apoptosis, proliferation, and myofibroblast generation were evaluated semi-quantitatively by TUNEL assay, immunocytochemical analysis of Ki67, and immunocytochemical analysis of alpha-smooth muscle actin, respectively. Stromal cell necrosis and characteristics of other cell types in the stroma were evaluated by electron microscopy. Keratocyte apoptosis and the subsequent proliferation and generation of myofibroblasts were qualitatively and quantitatively different in PRK for high myopia compared to either PRK for low myopia or LASIK for high myopia. Stromal cell necrosis becomes a significant form of cell death by 24hr after injury and may involve corneal fibroblasts, myofibroblasts, and inflammatory cells. Large numbers of polymorphonuclear cells and monocytes invade the cornea by 24hr after surgery and persist for over 1 week. The qualitative and quantitative differences in the cellular wound healing response after PRK for high and low myopia and LASIK for high myopia are likely determinants of the clinical differences in refractive outcome and some of the complications, such as regression and haze, seen after these procedures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Division
  • Corneal Stroma / pathology*
  • Corneal Stroma / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / ultrastructure
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • Keratomileusis, Laser In Situ*
  • Lasers, Excimer
  • Myopia / surgery*
  • Necrosis
  • Photorefractive Keratectomy*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Rabbits
  • Wound Healing