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Cornea. 2001 Jan;20(1):86-95.

The effects of organ-culture on the density of keratocytes and collagen fibers in human corneas.

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Department of Morphology, Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute, Amsterdam.



Keratocytes are important in regaining corneal transparency during wound healing after surgery or trauma. Hitherto, there are still controversies concerning the effects of organ culture on the density and integrity of keratocytes and collagen fibers. The current study aimed at a systematic analysis of the effects of organ-culture on the morphology and density of keratocytes and collagen fibers.


Human corneas were organ-cultured in MEM for 7 (n = 17, 3 pairs), 14 (n = 18, 9 pairs) and 21 days (n = 18, 9 pairs). Of the pairs one cornea was processed in swollen condition and the fellow cornea after reversal of swelling in MEM plus Dextran. Eleven post-mortem corneas (PM) and 11 fresh corneas obtained from melanoma patients were used as controls. Stromal thickness, number of keratocyte profiles (corrected for swelling), number and diameter of collagen fibers were measured in light microscopical sections and electron micrographs.


Stromal swelling due to organ-culture resulted in large keratocyte profiles with many vacuoles and large distances between collagen fibers in the posterior stroma. In contrast both keratocytes and distances between collagen fibers were not affected in the anterior stroma. After reversed-swelling the posterior corneal stroma was similar to that in fresh controls, indicating that the swelling process is largely reversible. The initial decrease in keratocyte density (18%) in the early post-mortem period did not progress during 21 days of organ culture.


With respect to the morphology and density of keratocytes and collagen fibers it can be concluded that donor corneas remain suitable for transplantation up to at least 21 days after organ-culture.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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