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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2003 May;44(5):2076-83.

In vitro study on the closure of posterior capsulorrhexis in the human eye.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium.



An unexplained clinical observation is the development of posterior capsular opacification (PCO), even when the central part of the posterior capsule has been removed. The purpose of this study was to investigate in vitro the mechanisms involved in the closure of the posterior capsulorrhexis in a capsular bag model.


A sham extracapsular cataract extraction was performed in 71 human donor eyes, followed by a central posterior capsulorrhexis 3 to 4 mm in diameter. Each capsular bag was pinned to a PMMA ring with a central hole of 5 mm and placed in a Petri dish. The capsular bags were cultured and monitored for 3 to 7 weeks by phase-contrast microscopy, after which they were prepared for light, transmission, and scanning electron microscopy.


Proliferation of lens epithelial cells (LECs) within the posterior rhexis area was found in 22 cases (31%) of which 3 had a complete closure. In the absence of the posterior capsule, a monolayer of LECs was observed growing on a basal lamina, consisting of loosely arranged fibers. Further observations on noncultured capsular bags revealed that this basal lamina corresponds to the anterior hyaloid membrane.


This study corroborates the clinical observation that LECs that remain after cataract extraction have the potential to proliferate, in the absence of their natural substrate, on a basal lamina of vitreous origin and are able to close the posterior capsulorrhexis partially or totally in approximately one third of cases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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