Seeding of corneal wounds by epithelial cell transfer from micropatterned PDMS contact lenses

Cell Transplant. 2005;14(8):565-71. doi: 10.3727/000000005783982783.


Persistent corneal wounds result from numerous eye disorders, and to date, available treatments often fail to accelerate reepithelialization, the key initial step in wound healing. To speed reepithelialization, we explored a cell-transfer transplant method utilizing polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) contact lenses to deliver epithelial cells derived from limbal explants directly within a corneal wound. Human primary epithelial cells and an immortalized corneal epithelial cell line (HCE-SV40) grew well on PDMS contact lenses and their morphology and growth rates where similar to cells grown on tissue culture polystyrene. To initially study cell transfer from PDMS, HCE-SV40 cells were seeded onto PDMS with or without micropatterned posts. After a day in culture, HCE-SV40 cells attached to the unpatterned PDMS uniformly, whereas on micropatterned PDMS they appeared to attach primarily between posts. The cell-covered PDMS contacts were then placed cell-side down onto tissue culture plastic and, after 1, 2, or 3 days, the PDMS contact was removed and the transferred cells were trypsinized and counted. Micropatterned PDMS contact lenses with 100-microm-diameter posts and a post height of 40 microm transferred three times as many cells as unpatterned PDMS. Cell transfer to a wounded cornea was tested in a pig cornea organ culture model de-epithelialized by alkali treatment. Post micropatterned PDMS contact lenses were seeded with labeled HCE-SV40 cells at a density 50,000 cells/cm2 and applied to the wounded pig corneas. After 24, 48, or 96 h of application, PDMS contact lenses were removed, corneas fixed with formaldehyde, and sectioned. After 48 h, epithelial cells transferred from post micropatterned contact lenses to provide 35% epithelial coverage of denuded pig corneas; after 96 h coverage was 65%. We conclude that cell transfer from epithelial-coated PDMS contact lenses micropatterned with posts provides a promising approach to reepithelialize corneal surfaces.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Contact Lenses*
  • Cornea / surgery
  • Corneal Injuries*
  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes / administration & dosage*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Silicones / administration & dosage*
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing


  • Dimethylpolysiloxanes
  • Silicones
  • baysilon