Background: The aim of this study was to characterize the cell biology of wound healing in rabbit corneas subjected to laser in situ keratomileusis (LASIK).
Methods: Rabbit corneas underwent LASIK with various multizone photoablations or only a lamellar keratotomy followed by repositioning of the flap. We looked for indications for an active wound healing process. Immunohistochemistry for the extradomain A cellular fibronectin (EDA-cFn) or tenascin (Tn) and routine histology were examined.
Results: Four days after LASIK or lamellar keratotomy followed by repositioning of the flap, epithelial plugs and prominent keratocytes as well as Tn and EDA-cFn immunoreactions-indicative of a wound-healing process-appeared in the wound margins. Epithelial plugs were less conspicous, and prominent, presumably activated, keratocytes were no longer identified at the wound margin at 2.5 and 5 months after wounding. However, EDA-cFn and Tn immunoreactivities could still be observed. Only the stromal cells located in the periphery of the flap and in relatively close contact with the epithelium were surrounded by scar tissue expressing immunoreactivity for EDA-cFn or Tn. The central corneal stroma was devoid of scar tissue.
Conclusion: Results indicate that the wound healing reaction after LASIK takes place only at the periphery of the microkeratome wound, leaving the central optical zone clear.