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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Feb;46(2):497-503.

Characterization and distribution of bone marrow-derived cells in mouse cornea.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Kyoto 602-0841, Japan.



Bone marrow (BM)-derived stem cells are thought to possess extensive differentiation capacity. The present study was conducted to investigate the characteristics and distribution of these cells in the normal mouse cornea.


BM cells and BM-derived hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSCs) from enhanced GFP (eGFP) transgenic mice (lin(-), Sca-1(+)) were intravenously transplanted into irradiated wild-type C57BL/6 mice. At 4 to 6 months after transplantation, the mice were killed, and their whole corneas examined by histologic and immunohistochemical methods (CD11c, CD11b, and CD45).


At 2 weeks after BM cell transplantation, GFP(+) cells gradually migrated into the cornea from the limbal area. At 2 to 6 months, they were distributed over the entire cornea. In cross sections of whole cornea, GFP(+) cells comprised 27.3% +/- 11.1% (BM) and 24.0% +/- 8.01% (HSC) of total cells in the peripheral corneal stroma. In the center of the corneal stroma, GFP(+) cells were 7.58% +/- 2.63% (BM) and 8.06% +/- 1.76% (HSC) of total cells. Immunohistochemistry showed that GFP(+) CD11c(+), CD11b(+), CD11c(-), and CD11b(-) cells occupied the entire corneal stroma.


The present study provides direct evidence of the distribution of BM-derived cells in the mouse cornea. Immunohistochemical study showed that some of these cells are BM-derived antigen-presenting cells such as dendritic cells and macrophages. Some elements of BM-derived cells may continue to exist in the corneal stroma.

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