Recent Advances in Natural Materials for Corneal Tissue Engineering

Bioengineering (Basel). 2021 Oct 26;8(11):161. doi: 10.3390/bioengineering8110161.


Given the incidence of corneal dysfunctions and diseases worldwide and the limited availability of healthy, human donors, investigators are working to generate engineered cellular and acellular therapeutic approaches as alternatives to corneal transplants from human cadavers. These engineered strategies aim to address existing complications with human corneal transplants, including graft rejection, infection, and complications resulting from surgical methodologies. The main goals of these research endeavors are to (1) determine ideal mechanical properties, (2) devise methodologies to improve the efficacy of engineered corneal grafts and cell-based therapies, and (3) optimize transplantation of engineered tissue structures in the eye. Thus, recent innovations have sought to address these challenges through both in vitro and in vivo studies. This review covers recent work aimed at evaluating engineered materials, potential therapeutic cells, and the resulting cell-material interactions that lead to optimal corneal graft properties. Furthermore, we discuss promising strategies in corneal tissue engineering techniques and in vivo studies in animal models.

Keywords: biomimetic materials; cornea; corneal tissue engineering; natural biomaterials.

Publication types

  • Review