Limbal Epithelial Stem Cells: Role of the Niche Microenvironment§

Authors

  • Paula Ordonez,

    1. Inflammation and Infection Research Centre, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Nick Di Girolamo

    Corresponding author
    1. Inflammation and Infection Research Centre, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    • Inflammation and Infection Research Centre, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, New South Wales, Australia
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    • Telephone: 61-2-9385-2538; Fax: 61-2-9385-1389


  • Author contributions: Paula Ordonez provided the first version of the manuscript and compiled Figure 1. Nick Di Girolamo provided the outline for the review and was responsible for drafting the manuscript and for performing the histological studies that contributed to Figures 2 and 3.

  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

  • §

    First published online in STEM CELLS EXPRESS November 30, 2011.

Abstract

The cornea contains a reservoir of self-regenerating epithelial cells that are essential for maintaining its transparency and good vision. The study of stem cells in this functionally important organ has grown over the past four decades, partly due to the ease with which this tissue is visualized, its accessibility with minimally invasive instruments, and the fact that its stem cells are segregated within a transitional zone between two functionally diverse epithelia. While human, animal, and ex vivo models have been instrumental in progressing the corneal stem cell field, there is still much to be discovered about this exquisitely sensitive window for sight. This review will provide an overview of the human cornea, where its stem cells reside and how components of the microenvironment including extracellular matrix proteins and their integrin receptors are thought to govern corneal stem cell homeostasis. STEM CELLS 2012; 30:100–107.

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