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Abstract

Limbal stem cell deficiency is a blinding disease which affects the cornea at the front of the eye. The definitive cure involves replacing the corneal epithelial (limbal) stem cells, for example by transplanting cultured limbal epithelial cells. One method of performing cultures is to grow a sheet of epithelial cells from a limbal explant on human amniotic membrane. The growth of limbal tissue can be variable. The aim of this study is to investigate how different donor and culture factors influence the ex vivo growth of cadaveric limbal explants. Limbal explant cultures were established from 10 different cadaveric organ cultured corneo-scleral discs. The growth rate and the time taken for growth to be established were determined. Statistical analysis was performed to assess correlation between these factors and donor variables including donor age, sex, time from donor death to enucleation, time from enucleation to organ culture storage and duration in organ culture. Growth curves consistently showed a lag phase followed by a steeper linear growth phase. Donor age, time between death and enucleation, and time between enucleation and organ culture were not correlated to the lag time or the growth rate. Time in organ culture had a significant correlation with the duration of lag time (P = 0.003), but no relationship with the linear growth rate. This study shows that an important factor correlating with growth variation is the duration of corneo-scleral tissue in organ culture. Interestingly, donor age was not correlated with limbal explant growth. J. Cell. Physiol. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.