Applications of Biomaterials in Corneal Endothelial Tissue Engineering

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Abstract

When corneal endothelial cells (CECs) are diseased or injured, corneal endothelium can be surgically removed and tissue from a deceased donor can replace the original endothelium. Recent major innovations in corneal endothelial transplantation include replacement of diseased corneal endothelium with a thin lamellar posterior donor comprising a tissue-engineered endothelium carried or cultured on a thin substratum with an organized monolayer of cells. Repairing CECs is challenging because they have restricted proliferative ability in vivo. CECs can be cultivated in vitro and seeded successfully onto natural tissue materials or synthetic polymeric materials as grafts for transplantation. The optimal biomaterials for substrata of CEC growth are being investigated. Establishing a CEC culture system by tissue engineering might require multiple biomaterials to create a new scaffold that overcomes the disadvantages of single biomaterials. Chitosan and polycaprolactone are biodegradable biomaterials approved by the Food and Drug Administration that have superior biological, degradable, and mechanical properties for culturing substratum. We successfully hybridized chitosan and polycaprolactone into blended membranes, and demonstrated that CECs proliferated, developed normal morphology, and maintained their physiological phenotypes. The interaction between cells and biomaterials is important in tissue engineering of CECs. We are still optimizing culture methods for the maintenance and differentiation of CECs on biomaterials.

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