Cultured human corneal endothelial cell transplantation with a collagen sheet in a rabbit model

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Sep;45(9):2992-7. doi: 10.1167/iovs.03-1174.


Purpose: To evaluate the function of cultured human corneal endothelial cells (HCECs) in vivo and the feasibility of HCEC transplantation with a collagen sheet as the substitute carrier of HCECs.

Methods: Adult human donor cornea derived from cultured HCECs was labeled with the fluorescent tracker DiI (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate) and seeded on a collagen sheet. The pump function of the HCEC sheet was evaluated by measurement of the potential difference and short-circuit current. A 6-mm sclerocorneal incision and Descemetorhexis were performed on rabbit eyes. The HCECs on a collagen sheet was brought into the anterior chamber and fixed to the posterior stroma (HCEC group). Rabbit corneas with collagen sheet transplantation after Descemetorhexis (collagen group) and with only Descemetorhexis (no-transplantation group) were the control. Each group, observed for 28 days after surgery, underwent histologic and fluorescence microscopic examinations.

Results: Pump function parameters of the HCEC sheets were 76% to 95% of those of human donor corneas. Mean corneal thickness in the HCEC group was significantly less than in the collagen and no-transplantation groups 1, 3, 7, 14, 21, and 28 days (P < 0.05) after surgery. DiI-labeled cells were spread over the rear corneal surface in the HCEC group. Marked stromal edema was present in the collagen and no-transplantation groups with hematoxylin-eosin staining, but none in the HCEC group with collagen sheets bearing monolayer cells.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that cultured HCECs transplanted from adult human donor cornea by means of a collagen sheet can retain their function of corneal dehydration in a rabbit model and suggest the feasibility of transplantation for CEC dysfunction using cultured HCECs with a collagen sheet.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transplantation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Collagen*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Endothelium, Corneal / cytology*
  • Endothelium, Corneal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Ophthalmologic Surgical Procedures*
  • Rabbits


  • Collagen