A Novel Technique of Amniotic Membrane Preparation Mimicking Limbal Epithelial Crypts Enhances the Number of Progenitor Cells upon Expansion

Cells. 2023 Feb 24;12(5):738. doi: 10.3390/cells12050738.


We aimed to investigate whether a novel technique of human amniotic membrane (HAM) preparation that mimics the crypts in the limbus enhances the number of progenitor cells cultured ex vivo. The HAMs were sutured on polyester membrane (1) standardly, to obtain a flat HAM surface, or (2) loosely, achieving the radial folding to mimic crypts in the limbus. Immunohistochemistry was used to demonstrate a higher number of cells positive for progenitor markers p63α (37.56 ± 3.34% vs. 62.53 ± 3.32%, p = 0.01) and SOX9 (35.53 ± 0.96% vs. 43.23 ± 2.32%, p = 0.04), proliferation marker Ki-67 (8.43 ± 0.38 % vs. 22.38 ± 1.95 %, p = 0.002) in the crypt-like HAMs vs. flat HAMs, while no difference was found for the quiescence marker CEBPD (22.99 ± 2.96% vs. 30.49 ± 3.33 %, p = 0.17). Most of the cells stained negative for the corneal epithelial differentiation marker KRT3/12, and some were positive for N-cadherin in the crypt-like structures, but there was no difference in staining for E-cadherin and CX43 in crypt-like HAMs vs. flat HAMs. This novel HAM preparation method enhanced the number of progenitor cells expanded in the crypt-like HAM compared to cultures on the conventional flat HAM.

Keywords: HAM; KRT12); KRT3; LESC; SOX9; cornea; crypt (CLET; differentiation; epithelial; limbus; p63α; progenitor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amnion*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Stem Cells*

Grants and funding

This research was funded by South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, grant number 2016041, Inger Holms memorial fund and UNIFOR; Futura Fund, Aase Bye, and Trygve J.B. Hoffs fund for scientific medical research.