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Collagen-based bioengineered substitutes of donor corneal allograft implantation: assessment and hypotheses.

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The Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy, Odessa, Ukraine.
Integrative Regenerative Medicine Centre, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.


To fabricate donor corneal substitutes based on carbodiimide cross-linked porcine collagen, to study their in vitro and in vivo properties, and to elaborate new implantation techniques for the donor corneal collagen-based substitutes, this study had been performed. Bioengineered substitutes of corneal stroma (BSCS) were fabricated by cross-linking porcine type I collagen with 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethyl aminopropyl) carbodiimide and N-hydroxysuccinimide, as previously described. Their refractive indices were measured using an Abbe refractometer. The mechanical properties were evaluated by their ability to tolerate interrupted stitches placed during deep lamellar keratoplasty performed on isolated rabbit eyes. BSCS were then implanted into one cornea of 8 rabbits and were followed-up for 12 months. Our BSCS had refractive indices of 1.24-1.3 (human cornea 1.37-1.38), and tolerated the placement of 12 interrupted stitches well. A new technique, the BSCS "stitchless" implantation, was developed. When implanted into rabbit corneas, BSCS remained stably integrated and clear during the 12 month follow-up. Non-intensive opacities within corneal layers (grade 1.5 on a scale of 0 to 4) were observed in 2/8 eyes during the 1st postoperative week, and in one eye the opacity resolved. In the 2nd eye a fine opacity (grade 1) remained. Light microscopy confirmed the integrity of the implants and the absence of inflammation in corneal stroma. The current data suggest that the BSCS fabricated in the Ukraine by cross-linking collagen is a good alternative to human donor corneas if medical grade porcine collagen is used. In addition, the new "stitchless" technique of BSCS implantation may decrease corneal substitute damage and accelerate its epithelialisation.


Bioengineered substitutes of corneal stroma; Cross-linking collagen; Ukraine

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