Restoration of Corneal Transparency by Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Stem Cell Reports. 2016 Oct 11;7(4):583-590. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2016.09.001. Epub 2016 Sep 29.


Transparency of the cornea is indispensable for optimal vision. Ocular trauma is a leading cause of corneal opacity, leading to 25 million cases of blindness annually. Recently, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have gained prominence due to their inflammation-suppressing and tissue repair functions. Here, we investigate the potential of MSCs to restore corneal transparency following ocular injury. Using an in vivo mouse model of ocular injury, we report that MSCs have the capacity to restore corneal transparency by secreting high levels of hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). Interestingly, our data also show that HGF alone can restore corneal transparency, an observation that has translational implications for the development of HGF-based therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cornea / cytology
  • Cornea / drug effects
  • Cornea / physiology*
  • Corneal Injuries / genetics
  • Corneal Injuries / metabolism
  • Corneal Injuries / pathology
  • Corneal Injuries / therapy
  • Fibroblasts
  • Gene Expression
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / genetics
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1beta / pharmacology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Regeneration*
  • Wound Healing


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor