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Int J Ophthalmol. 2012;5(2):158-63. doi: 10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2012.02.08. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

In vitro transdifferentiation of corneal epithelial-like cells from human skin-derived precursor cells.

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Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok 14140, Thailand.


The damage of human corneal cells encounter with the problem of availability of corneal cells for replacement. Limitation of the source of corneal cells has been realized. An attempt of development of corneal epithelial-like cells from the human skin-derived precursor (hSKPs) has been made in this study. Combination of three essential growth factors: epidermal growth factor (EGF), keratinocyte growth factor (KGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) could demonstrate successfully induction of hSKPs to differentiation into corneal cells.The induced cells expressed the appearance of markers of corneal epithelial cells as shown by the presence of keratin 3 (K3) by antibody label and Western blot assay. The K3 gene expression of induced hSKPs cells as shown by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technology was also demonstrated. The presence of these markers at both gene and protein levels could lead to our conclusion that the directional transdifferentiation of hSKPs cells into corneal epithelial cells was successfully done under this cell induction protocol. The finding shows a newly available stem cell source can be obtained from easily available skin. Cells from autologous human skin might be used for corneal disorder treatment in future clinical application.


corneal epithelial-like cell; human skin-derived precursor cell; transdifferentiation

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