Visual improvement after cultivated oral mucosal epithelial transplantation

Ophthalmology. 2013 Jan;120(1):193-200. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.07.053. Epub 2012 Oct 16.


Purpose: To report the effectiveness, disease-specific outcomes, and safety of cultivated oral mucosal epithelial sheet transplantation (COMET), with the primary objective of visual improvement.

Design: Noncomparative, retrospective, interventional case series.

Participants: This study involved 46 eyes in 40 patients with complete limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) who underwent COMET for visual improvement. These LSCD disorders fell into the following 4 categories: Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS; 21 eyes), ocular cicatricial pemphigoid (OCP; 10 eyes), thermal or chemical injury (7 eyes), or other diseases (8 eyes).

Methods: Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA) and ocular surface grading score were examined before surgery; at the 4th, 12th, and 24th postoperative week; and at the last follow-up. Data on COMET-related adverse events and postoperative management were collected. The outcomes in each disease category were evaluated separately.

Main outcome measures: The primary outcome was the change in median logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution (logMAR) BCVA at the 24th postoperative week. The secondary outcome was the ocular surface grading score.

Results: Median logMAR BCVA at baseline was 2.40 (range, 1.10 to 3.00). In SJS, logMAR BCVA improved significantly during the 24 weeks after surgery. In contrast, the BCVA in OCP was improved significantly only at the 4th postoperative week. In 6 of the 7 thermal or chemical injury cases, logMAR BCVA improved after planned penetrating keratoplasty or deep lamellar keratoplasty. Grading scores of ocular surface abnormalities improved in all categories. Of 31 patients with vision loss (logMAR BCVA, >2) at baseline, COMET produced improvement (logMAR BCVA, ≤2) in 15 patients (48%). Visual improvement was maintained with long-term follow-up (median, 28.7 months). Multivariate stepwise logistic regression analysis showed that corneal neovascularization and symblepharon were correlated significantly with logMAR BCVA improvement at the 24th postoperative week (P=0.0023 and P=0.0173, respectively). Although postoperative persistent epithelial defects and slight to moderate corneal infection occurred in the eyes of 16 and 2 patients, respectively, all were treated successfully with no eye perforation.

Conclusions: Long-term visual improvement was achievable in cases of complete LSCD. Cultivated oral mucosal epithelial sheet transplantation offered substantial visual improvement even for patients with end-stage severe ocular surface disorders accompanying severe tear deficiency. Patients with corneal blindness such as SJS benefited from critical improvement of visual acuity.

Financial disclosure(s): The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in anymaterials discussed in this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Child
  • Corneal Diseases / physiopathology
  • Corneal Diseases / surgery*
  • Epithelial Cells / transplantation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / cytology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stem Cells / pathology
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Transplantation, Autologous
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity / physiology*