1. Department of Ophthalmology, Yan' An Hospital of Kunming City, Kunming, 650051, China;
2. Department of Ophthalmology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, 210029, China;
3. Department of Ophthalmology, the Second People's Hospital of Yunnan Province, Kunming, 650021, China;
4. Public Health, the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, 85709, USA;
5. Research and Development Department, TissueTech, Inc., 7000 SW 97th Avenue, Suite 212, Miami, FL 33173, USA;
6. Department of Ophthalmology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430030, Hubei Province, China;
7. Shenzhen Eye Hospital, School of Optometry & Ophthalmology of Shenzhen University, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Department of Ophthalmology, Shenzhen, 518000, China.
* These authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Human corneal endothelial cells have two major functions: barrier function mediated by proteins such as ZO-1 and pump function mediated by Na-K-ATPase which help to maintain visual function. However, human corneal endothelial cells are notorious for their limited proliferative capability in vivo and are therefore prone to corneal endothelial dysfunction that eventually may lead to blindness. At present, the only method to cure corneal endothelial dysfunction is by transplantation of a cadaver donor cornea with normal corneal endothelial cells. Due to the global shortage of donor corneas, it is vital to engineer corneal tissue in vitro that could potentially be transplanted clinically. In this review, we summarize the advances in understanding the behavior of human corneal endothelial cells, their current engineering strategy in vitro and their potential applications.
Keywords: cornea, endothelial, progenitor, regenerative medical application.