13 years of cultured limbal epithelial cell therapy: a review of the outcomes

J Cell Biochem. 2011 Apr;112(4):993-1002. doi: 10.1002/jcb.23028.


The cornea is the clear tissue at the front of the eye which enables the transmission of light to the retina for normal vision. The surface of the cornea is composed of an epithelium which is renewed by stem cells located at the periphery of the cornea, a region known as the limbus. These limbal stem cells can become deficient as a result of various diseases of the eye's surface, resulting in the blinding disease of limbal stem cell deficiency. The treatment of this disease is often difficult and complex. In 1997, it was proposed that a small amount of limbal tissue containing limbal stem cells could be culture expanded and then transplanted. Since then various case reports and case series have been reported showing promising results. Here, we review the outcomes of this procedure over the past 13 years with the aim of highlighting the best culture and surgical techniques to date.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Corneal Diseases / surgery*
  • Epithelial Cells / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Limbus Corneae / cytology*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / trends
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Treatment Outcome