Aim: To determine the impact of age on the morphology of endothelial cells and central corneal thickness (CCT) in Chinese tree shrew.
Methods: One-hundred and twenty eyes of 60 healthy Chinese tree shrews were studied. Based on age, the tree shrews were divided into four groups. After general anesthesia, the images of endothelium were acquired using non-contact specular microscope Topcon 3000P. Eight parameters of corneal endothelial cells were measured by built-in software, including CCT, endothelial cell density (ECD), percent hexagonality (HG%), coefficient of variability (CV), size of minimal cell (Smin), size of maximal cell (Smax), average cells size (Savg) and size standard deviation (Ssd). Data were analyzed using STATA software. The differences of eight parameters among groups and correlations with age were analyzed.
Results: In all studied animals, the average CCT was 249.6±20.29 µm (202-301 µm), ECD was 3080.72± 460.76 cells/mm2 (1239.6-4047.6 cells/mm2) and CV was 29.10±7.60 (13.6-54.6). CV was significantly different among different groups (P<0.001). Strong correlation with age was found in ECD, Smax, Savg, Ssd and CV.
Conclusion: Cornea of Chinese tree shrews had half CCT of human cornea and similar ECD, CV and size of corneal endothelial cells. Young adult tree shrews had higher ECD, HG% and low CV. ECD, Smax, Savg, Ssd and CV correlated with age significantly.
Keywords: Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis); age; cornea; endothelial cells; specular microscope.