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Amniotic membrane immobilized poly(vinyl alcohol) hybrid polymer as an artificial cornea scaffold that supports a stratified and differentiated corneal epithelium.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology, Tokyo Dental College, Chiba, Japan.


Poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA) is a biocompatible, transparent hydrogel with physical strength that makes it promising as a material for an artificial cornea. In our previous study, type I collagen was immobilized onto PVA (PVA-COL) as a possible artificial cornea scaffold that can sustain a functional corneal epithelium. The cellular adhesiveness of PVA in vitro was improved by collagen immobilization; however, stable epithelialization was not achieved in vivo. To improve epithelialization in vivo, we created an amniotic membrane (AM)-immobilized polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel (PVA-AM) for use as an artificial cornea material. AM was attached to PVA-COL using a tissue adhesive consisting of collagen and citric acid derivative (CAD) as a crosslinker. Rabbit corneal epithelial cells were air-lift cultured with 3T3 feeder fibroblasts to form a stratified epithelial layer on PVA-AM. The rabbit corneal epithelial cells formed 3-5 layers of keratin-3-positive epithelium on PVA-AM. Occludin-positive cells were observed lining the superficial epithelium, the gap-junctional protein connexin43-positive cells was localized to the cell membrane of the basal epithelium, while both collagen IV were observed in the basement membrane. Epithelialization over implanted PVA-AM was complete within 2 weeks, with little inflammation or opacification of the hydrogel. Corneal epithelialization on PVA-AM in rabbit corneas improved over PVA-COL, suggesting the possibility of using PVA-AM as a biocompatible hybrid material for keratoprosthesis.

(c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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