Comparison of characteristics of cultured limbal cells on denuded amniotic membrane and fresh conjunctival, limbal and corneal tissues

Dev Growth Differ. 2007 Apr;49(3):241-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2007.00924.x.


This study aimed to evaluate proposed molecular markers related to eye limbal stem cells (SC) and to identify novel associated genes. The expression of a set of genes potentially involved in stemness was assessed in freshly prepared limbal, corneal and conjunctival tissues. PAX6, AC133, K12 and OCT4 were detected in all the tissues and p63(+)/K3(-)/K12(+)/Nodal(+)/Cx43(+) were expressed in conjunctival, p63(-)/K3(+)/K12(+)/Nodal(-)/Cx43(+) in corneal, and p63(+)/K3(-)/K12(-)/Nodal(-)/Cx43(-) in limbal tissues. Limbal explants were cultured on human amniotic membrane for 21 days. The cells expressed p63 but not K3, K12, Nodal and Cx43, however, the expression of K3, K12 and Cx43 was detected, and p63 and the high BrdU-labeling index decreased with more culture. Ultrastructure analysis of the cultured cells showed typically immature organization of intracellular organelles and architecture. Our data suggest that limbal, corneal and conjunctival tissues are heterogeneous with some progenitors. Also, the expression of traditional SC markers may not be a reliable indicator of limbal SC and there is an increasing need to determine factor(s) involved in their stemness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amnion / chemistry
  • Amnion / cytology
  • Amnion / physiology
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Conjunctiva / chemistry
  • Conjunctiva / cytology
  • Conjunctiva / physiology
  • Cornea / chemistry
  • Cornea / cytology
  • Cornea / physiology
  • Gene Expression*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Limbus Corneae / chemistry
  • Limbus Corneae / cytology*
  • Limbus Corneae / ultrastructure
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Regeneration / genetics*
  • Stem Cells / chemistry
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Stem Cells / ultrastructure


  • Biomarkers
  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA, Messenger