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Keywords:

  • Angiogenesis;
  • Cornea;
  • Inflammation;
  • Mesenchymal stem cell

Abstract

To investigate the anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in the chemically burned corneas, we mechanically removed the corneal epithelium of rats after 100% alcohol instillation. The rats were then randomized into four groups: fresh media, conditioned media derived from the MSC culture (MSC-CM), MSC applied topically to the damaged corneas for 2 hours immediately after the injury or MSC-CM applied either once or 3 times per day for 3 consecutive days. Corneal surface was evaluated every week. After 3 weeks, the corneas were stained with the hematoxylin-eosin, and the expression of interleukin (IL)-2, interferon (IFN)-γ, IL-6, IL-10, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1, thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1), matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were analyzed. CD4+ cells were assessed in the corneas. We found that both MSC and three-time applied MSC-CM (1) reduced corneal inflammation and neovascularization, (2) decreased IL-2 and IFN-γ, although increased IL-10 and TGF-β1 as well as IL-6, (3) reduced the infiltration of CD4+ cells, and (4) upregulated the expression of TSP-1, although downregulated that of MMP-2. Interestingly, whereas three-time application of MSC-CM was partially effective, transplantation of MSC achieved a better outcome in suppressing corneal inflammation. The results of this study suggest that the anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic action of MSC in the chemically burned corneas might be mediated in part through paracrine pathways involving soluble factors such as IL-10, TGF-β1, IL-6 and TSP-1.

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