Corneal epithelialisation on surface-modified hydrogel implants Artificial cornea

Ma, Aihua, Zhao, Bojun, Bentley, Adam J., Brahma, Arun, MacNeil, Sheila, Martin, Francis L orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8562-4944, Rimmer, Stephen and Fullwood, Nigel J. (2011) Corneal epithelialisation on surface-modified hydrogel implants Artificial cornea. Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine, 22 (3). pp. 663-670. ISSN 0957-4530

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The objective was to investigate corneal re-epithelialisation of surface-modified polymethacrylate hydrogel implants in order to evaluate them as potential materials for an artificial cornea. Polymethacrylate hydrogels were modified with amines and then coated with different extracellular matrix proteins (collagen I, IV, laminin and fibronectin). The modified hydrogels were surgically implanted into bovine corneas maintained in a 3-D culture system for 5 days. The epithelial growth across the implant surface was evaluated using fluorescent, light and electron microscopy. Full epithelialisation was achieved on 1,4-diaminobutane-modified hydrogels after coating with collagen IV. Hydrogels modified with 1,4-diaminobutane but without further coating only showed partial re-epithelialisation. Hydrogels modified with other amines (1,2-diaminoethane or 1,3-diaminopropane) showed only partial re-epithelialisation; further coating with extracellular matrix proteins improved epithelialisation of these surfaces but did not result in complete re-epithelialisation. Evaluation of the corneas implanted with the 1,4-diaminobutane-modified hydrogels coated with collagen IV showed that the artificial corneas remain clear, integrate well and become covered by a healthy stratified epithelium. In conclusion the 1,4-diaminobutane surface-modified hydrogel coated with collagen IV supported the growth of a stable stratified epithelium. With further refinement this hydrogel has the potential to be used clinically for an artificial cornea.

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