Canine corneal epithelial cells possess a sustained proliferative capacity and generate a spontaneously derived cell line

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Abstract

We have previously reported characteristics of canine corneal epithelial cells in vitro and found that canine corneal epithelial cells could maintain their proliferative capacity even after continuous culture without the use of feeder cells and growth promoting additives. The objective of this study was to elucidate proliferative characteristics of canine corneal epithelial cells independent of feeder cells and growth promoting additives, with the aim of developing a spontaneously derived corneal epithelial cell line. Canine and rabbit corneal epithelial cells were harvested from the limbus and cultured with, or without, feeder cells and growth promoting additives, and both were passaged continuously until growth arrest. Canine corneal epithelial cells could proliferate independently, and could be passaged more times than rabbit cells. A canine corneal epithelial cell line, cCEpi, which could be passaged more than 100 times without using feeder cells and growth promoting additives, was established. cCEpi cells maintained a cell morphology close to the primary culture and expressed p63, cytokeratin 15 (K15), and K3. Although changes in colony morphology, shortening of the population doubling time and a heteroploid karyotype were observed, cCEpi was not tumorigenic. Stratified cell sheets cultured from cCEpi were morphologically and immunohistologically similar to sheets cultivated from early passage cells. In conclusion, canine corneal epithelial cells can proliferate independent of feeder cells and growth promoting additives. cCEpi maintains properties similar to normal corneal epithelial cells and could be a useful source for studies in cellular biology and for developing novel therapies.

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