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Exp Eye Res. 2010 Feb;90(2):188-95. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2009.09.023. Epub 2009 Oct 17.

In sickness and in health: Corneal epithelial stem cell biology, pathology and therapy.

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Department of Ocular Biology and Therapeutics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Cells for Sight Transplantation & Research Programme, 11-43 Bath Street, London EC1V 9EL, UK.


Our window to the world is provided by the cornea on the front surface of the eye. The integrity and functionality of the outermost corneal epithelium is essential for vision. A population of limbal epithelial stem cells (LESCs) are responsible for maintaining the epithelium throughout life by providing a constant supply of daughter cells that replenish those constantly lost from the ocular surface during normal wear and tear and following injury. LESC deficiency leads to corneal opacification, inflammation, vascularization and discomfort (Daniels et al., 2001, 2007). Cultured LESC delivery is one of several examples of successful adult stem cell therapy in patients. The clinical precedence for use of stem cell therapy and the accessibility of the transparent stem cell niche make the cornea a unique model for the study of adult stem cells in physiological conditions as well as in disease.

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