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Mol Vis. 2010 Jul 6;16:1227-40.

Gene expression profile of epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells derived from limbal explant culture.

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C-TRACER, Hyderabad Eye Research Foundation, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, India.



Limbal stem cell deficiency is a challenging clinical problem and the current treatment involves replenishing the depleted limbal stem cell (LSC) pool by either limbal tissue transplantation or use of cultivated limbal epithelial cells (LEC). Our experience of cultivating the LEC on denuded human amniotic membrane using a feeder cell free method, led to identification of mesenchymal cells of limbus (MC-L), which showed phenotypic resemblance to bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC-BM). To understand the transcriptional profile of these cells, microarray experiments were carried out.


RNA was isolated from cultured LEC, MC-L and MSC-BM and microarray experiments were carried out by using Agilent chip (4x44 k). The microarray data was validated by using Realtime and semiquntitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.


The microarray analysis revealed specific gene signature of LEC and MC-L, and also their complementary role related to cytokine and growth factor profile, thus supporting the nurturing roles of the MC-L. We have also observed similar and differential gene expression between MC-L and MSC-BM.


This study represents the first extensive gene expression analysis of limbal explant culture derived epithelial and mesenchymal cells and as such reveals new insight into the biology, ontogeny, and in vivo function of these cells.

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