Ocular surface reconstruction with autologous nasal mucosa in cicatricial ocular surface disease

Am J Ophthalmol. 2010 Jan;149(1):45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ajo.2009.07.030. Epub 2009 Oct 28.


Purpose: To investigate the possibility of replacing the metaplastic ocular surface with nasal mucosa, and to evaluate the results of autologous nasal and oral mucosal transplantation in cicatricial ocular surface diseases.

Design: Retrospective interventional case series.

Methods: We studied 6 eyes in 6 patients with chemical burns, which were characterized by a cicatricial ocular surface. After removal of cicatricial tissues and symblepharolysis, autologous nasal mucosa was transplanted in all patients. In 3 patients with extensive damage, oral mucosal autografting was performed concurrently. The nasal and oral mucosa was evaluated using immunohistochemical analysis for p63, K3, MUC5AC, and CD34. Clinical outcomes were assessed based on visual acuity, ocular manifestations, and liquid-based cytology.

Results: Immunohistochemical analysis revealed a plentitude of p63 and K3 in nasal mucosal epithelium. Goblet cells and MUC5AC expression were only observed in nasal mucosal epithelium, not in oral mucosal epithelium. Well-developed parallel vasculature was demonstrated in the nasal mucosa. In contrast, perpendicular vasculature was demonstrated in the oral mucosa. This vascular feature remained after transplantations. In all patients, ocular surface stability recovered with no major complications and increased goblet cells were observed on ocular surface. However, delayed epithelialization and ischemic thinning were seen at oral mucosal graft sites.

Conclusions: Nasal mucosa, which has the advantage of well-developed parallel vasculature, enriched goblet cells, and plenty of stem cells, may be an ideal substitute for a cicatricial ocular surface. Transplantation of autologous nasal mucosa is a very effective method for achieving ocular surface reconstruction in cicatricial ocular surface diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD34 / metabolism
  • Burns, Chemical / metabolism
  • Burns, Chemical / surgery*
  • Cicatrix / metabolism
  • Cicatrix / surgery*
  • Conjunctival Diseases / metabolism
  • Conjunctival Diseases / surgery*
  • Eye Burns / chemically induced*
  • Eye Burns / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Keratin-3 / metabolism
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / metabolism
  • Mouth Mucosa / transplantation*
  • Mucin 5AC / metabolism
  • Nasal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Nasal Mucosa / transplantation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Visual Acuity


  • Antigens, CD34
  • CKAP4 protein, human
  • KRT3 protein, human
  • Keratin-3
  • MUC5AC protein, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Mucin 5AC