Analysis of p63 and cytokeratin expression in a cultivated limbal autograft used in the treatment of limbal stem cell deficiency

Br J Ophthalmol. 2004 Sep;88(9):1154-8. doi: 10.1136/bjo.2003.037853.


Aim: To investigate the expression of p63 and cytokeratins throughout the course of producing a cultivated autograft of limbal epithelial cells.

Methods: A 75 year old male with a severe alkali burn to his right eye received two cultivated autografts of limbal epithelial cells on amniotic membrane followed by a corneal allograft. Immunostaining for p63 and cytokeratins was performed during ex vivo expansion with 3T3 fibroblasts, following subcultivation on amniotic membrane, and on the excised corneal button.

Results: Cultures grown in the presence of 3T3 fibroblasts or on amniotic membrane displayed positive staining for keratins 14 and 19, and p63, but poor staining for keratin 3 (K3). The excised corneal button possessed a stratified epithelium of K3 positive cells residing on amniotic membrane.

Conclusions: Our results document for the first time the co-expression of cytokeratins 14 and 19 with p63 in a cultivated limbal graft. These data support the conclusion that cultivated grafts of limbal epithelium contain predominantly undifferentiated cells with the potential to regenerate a normal corneal epithelium.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Burns, Chemical / metabolism
  • Burns, Chemical / surgery*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Corneal Transplantation / methods
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Epithelial Cells / chemistry*
  • Epithelial Cells / transplantation
  • Epithelium, Corneal / chemistry*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / transplantation
  • Eye Burns / metabolism
  • Eye Burns / surgery*
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Keratin-14
  • Keratin-3
  • Keratins / analysis*
  • Limbus Corneae / pathology*
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphoproteins / analysis*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Trans-Activators / analysis*
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • KRT14 protein, human
  • KRT3 protein, human
  • Keratin-14
  • Keratin-3
  • Phosphoproteins
  • TP63 protein, human
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Keratins