Ocular surface changes in limbal stem cell deficiency caused by chemical injury: a histologic study of excised pannus from recipients of cultured corneal epithelium

Eye (Lond). 2008 Sep;22(9):1161-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6702895. Epub 2007 Jun 8.


Purpose: To report histopathologic changes of the ocular surface pannus in patients with severe limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD).

Methods: Corneal and conjunctival pannus tissues from 29 patients undergoing ocular reconstruction with cultured limbal cell transplantation were included. The medical records of these patients were reviewed for demographics, aetiologic diagnosis, type of injury, interval between the initial insult and excision of pannus, and medical history involving human amniotic membrane (HAM) or limbal transplantation. The paraffin-embedded tissues were reviewed for epithelial changes, type-degree of fibrosis, degenerative changes, vascular changes, conjunctivalization of corneal surface, and evidence of residual HAM. We attempted a clinicopathologic correlation to understand the pathogenesis of pannus formation in LSCD.

Results: The 29 tissues were from 29 eyes of patients with primary aetiology of chemical burn in 89.6% (undetermined in 10.4%) of cases. The pannus showed epithelial hyperplasia in 62%, active fibrosis in 66%, severe inflammation in 21%, giant cell reaction in 28%, and stromal calcification in 14% cases. Goblet cells were seen over the cornea in 64% cases; their absence was associated with squamous metaplasia of the conjunctiva and with long duration of insult. Evidence of residual HAM was noted in 42% cases.

Conclusions: The commonest cause of severe LSCD is alkali-induced injury. Goblet cells over the cornea were seen in 60% of cases. HAM used for ocular surface reconstruction could persist for long periods within the corneal pannus, thus raising the need for further studies with long-term follow-up.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amnion / transplantation*
  • Amnion / ultrastructure
  • Burns, Chemical / pathology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epithelium, Corneal / injuries
  • Epithelium, Corneal / transplantation*
  • Epithelium, Corneal / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Goblet Cells / pathology
  • Humans
  • Limbus Corneae / injuries
  • Limbus Corneae / pathology*
  • Male
  • Metaplasia / pathology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Young Adult