Purpose: To evaluate corneal structural modifications induced by the deswelling period in dextran-containing medium following organ culture.
Methods: Twenty human corneas were organ-cultured for 2 weeks and subsequently incubated in Exosol deswelling medium (Opsia, Toulouse, France) for 1-4 days. Corneas were studied by means of light microscopy, morphometry, and transmission electron microscopy.
Results: The deswelling period induced a statistically significant 8.4% endothelial cell loss and a 27.4% increase in the coefficient of variation. The endothelial layer remained intact. The basal epithelial cells displayed a flat appearance. Thin endothelial cells were observed in addition to dark vacuoles (the number of which increased with incubation time) with dense material and no mitochondrial swelling. Some basal epithelial cells and keratocytes were damaged on day 3 or 4.
Conclusions: Preservation injuries induced by 1 or 2 days of incubation in deswelling medium are moderate. Three or 4 days of incubation result in more severe dextran-induced injuries. Consequently, the deswelling period should not exceed 2 days.