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Ophthalmology. 2006 Oct;113(10):1765-72. Epub 2006 Aug 14.

Transplantation of autologous serum-derived cultivated corneal epithelial equivalents for the treatment of severe ocular surface disease.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan.



To evaluate the use of autologous serum (AS)-derived cultivated corneal epithelial transplantation for the treatment of severe ocular surface disease.


Retrospective noncomparative case series.


Nine eyes from 9 patients with total limbal stem cell deficiency were studied. These consisted of 2 eyes with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, 1 with chemical injury, 1 with ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, 1 with Salzmann corneal dystrophy, 1 with aniridia, 1 with graft-versus-host disease, and 2 with idiopathic ocular surface disease.


Autologous serum obtained from patients was used for cultivating corneal epithelial cells on an amniotic membrane substrate. These AS-derived corneal epithelial equivalents were compared with those derived from fetal bovine serum (FBS)-supplemented medium. At the time of surgery, complete removal of the corneal pannus and conjunctiva up to 3 mm from the limbus was performed. Allogeneic (7 cases) and autologous (2 cases) AS-derived cultivated corneal epithelial equivalents were transplanted onto the ocular surface. Postoperative follow-up included serial slit-lamp examinations with fluorescein staining, as well as photographic documentation.


Ocular surface reconstruction with corneal epithelialization, graft integrity, visual acuity, and postoperative complications.


The corneal epithelial sheets cultivated in AS- and FBS-supplemented media were morphologically similar, and demonstrated the normal expression of tissue-specific keratins and junctional specialization assembly proteins. After transplantation, complete corneal epithelialization was achieved within 2 to 5 days. All eyes demonstrated an improvement in visual acuity by > or =2 lines. During the follow-up period of 14.6+/-4.36 months, the corneal surface of all patients remained stable and transparent, without significant complications.


Transplantation of AS-derived cultivated corneal epithelial equivalents was shown to be a feasible method of treating patients with severe ocular surface disease. The use of AS is of clinical importance in the development of autologous xenobiotic-free bioengineered ocular surface equivalents for clinical transplantation.

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