Background: Patients with severe unilateral ocular surface disease require reconstruction of the damaged ocular surface. We succeeded in culturing primary corneal limbal epithelial cells taken from minimal biopsy and, once grown, transplanting them on denuded amniotic membrane (AM).
Methods: Autologous corneal limbal epithelial cells from a 3 mm(2) biopsy of the uninjured eye were grown for 3 weeks on a denuded AM carrier. The resultant sheet was then transplanted onto the unilateral severely chemically injured eye.
Results: Minimal biopsy showed the autologous cultivated corneal epithelial cells to have 4-5 layers of sufficient stratification and to be well differentiated. At 19 months post-transplantation, the ocular surface epithelium was stable and there were no epithelial defects.
Conclusion: We document that it is possible to produce sufficiently stratified, well differentiated, autologous cultivated corneal limbal epithelium on AM from a minimal biopsy of the donor eye and to transplant it onto the injured eye.