Evidence of the survival of ectopically transplanted oral mucosal epithelial stem cells after repeated wounding of cornea

Mol Ther. 2014 Aug;22(8):1544-1555. doi: 10.1038/mt.2014.69. Epub 2014 Apr 28.


Tissue engineering has become an essential tool in the development of regenerative medicine. We have developed cell sheet-based techniques for use in regenerative medicine that have already been successfully used in clinical applications. Native corneal epithelium is produced from limbal stem cells located in the transition zone between the cornea and the bulbar conjunctiva. Limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) is a severe defect of the limbal stem cells leading to vision loss due to conjunctival epithelial invasion and neovascularization. Rabbit LSCD models were treated with transplantable autologous oral mucosal epithelial cell (OEC) sheets fabricated on temperature-responsive cell culture surfaces, after which, the ocular surfaces were clear and smooth with no observable defects. The central part of the reconstructed ocular surface was scraped and wounded, after which proliferating epithelial cells covered the scraped area within a few days. The ocular surfaces were clear and smooth even after repeated scrapings and consisted of only OECs or heterogeneously mixed with corneal epithelial cells. This study demonstrates that transplanted cell sheets containing oral mucosal epithelial stem cells could reconstruct the ocular surface to maintain cornea homeostasis; moreover, they provide an ideal microenvironment to support the proliferation of remaining native limbal stem cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Cell Survival
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Corneal Diseases / genetics
  • Corneal Diseases / pathology
  • Corneal Diseases / therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Epithelial Cells / transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mouth Mucosa / cytology*
  • NIH 3T3 Cells
  • Rabbits
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Biomarkers