Epithelial proliferative potential of organ cultured corneoscleral rims; implications for allo-limbal transplantation and eye banking

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To determine the epithelial proliferative capacity of organ cultured limbal tissue and correlate this with various donor and eye banking factors.


24 corneoscleral limbal (CSL) rims left over from penetrating keratoplasty were split in half and set up as in vitro explant cultures. Corneal epithelial proliferative potential (CEPP) was assessed by the number of “cycles” of growth achieved before explants underwent exhaustion and failure to generate an epithelium to subconfluence. The dependence of CEPP on the age of the donor, time of death to enucleation, time of enucleation to organ culture, and time in organ culture in the eye bank was determined.


CSL rims were capable of up to four cycles of culture with a wide variation between tissue samples. Of the various factors examined, death to enucleation time was the only statistically significant factor affecting the CEPP (regression coefficient: −0.062 (cycles/hour), CI −0.119 to −0.004, p  = 0.037). Time in organ culture had little effect on CEPP.


Preselected organ cultured CSL rims from eye banks may offer a viable alternative tissue source for use in allo-limbal transplantation.

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