Comparison of porcine corneal decellularization methods and importance of preserving corneal limbus through decellularization
Background: The aim of this study is to compare the three previously applied, conventional porcine corneal decellularization methods and to demonstrate the importance of preserving the corneal limbus through decellularization. Methods: Fresh, wild-type (with or without) limbus porcine corneas were decellularized using three different methods, including (i) sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), (ii) hypertonic saline (HS), and (iii) N 2 gas (NG). Post-treatment evaluation was carried out using histological, residual nuclear material, and ultrastructural analyses. Glycerol was used to help reduce the adverse effects of decellularization. The corneas were preserved for two weeks in cornea storage medium. Results: All three decellularization methods reduced the number of keratocytes at different rates in the stromal tissue. However, all methods, except SDS, resulted in the retention of large numbers of cells and cell fragments. The SDS method (0.1% SDS, 48h) resulted in almost 100% decellularization in corneas without limbus. Low decellularization capacity of the NG method (<50%) could make it unfavorable. Although HS method had a more balanced damage-decellularization ratio, its decellularization capacity was lower than SDS method. Preservation of the corneoscleral limbus could partially prevent structural damage and edema, but it would reduce the decellularization capacity. Conclusion: Our results suggest that SDS is a very powerful decellularization method, but it damages the cornea irreversibly. Preserving the corneoscleral limbus reduces the efficiency of decellularization, but also reduces the damage.
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