Background and Objective: Most of the in vitro work to characterize the effects of clinical laser surgery on corneal tissues has concentrated on the effects on stromal keratocytes and endothelium with little attention being paid to corneal epithelium. Our purpose is to describe the epithelial healing rates observed in freshly cultured rabbit corneas treated with phototherapeutic keratectomy (PTK). Study Design/Materials and Methods: Corneas were placed in a simple organ culture system, with media change every 2 days. A clinical excimer laser was used to perform a 6 mm diameter, 100 μm depth transepithelial PTK on 24 cultured rabbit corneas, 1 day after culture initiation. For each post-treatment day, one experimental and one control cornea were removed from culture and stained with fluorescein, photographed, and fixed for histology. Epithelial defect area was measured with digital imaging software and analyzed statistically to assess the re-epithelialization rate. Results: Control corneas, maintained in culture for 1-4 days, had no epithelial defects. Those corneas treated with PTK exhibited an immediate epithelial defect that slowly healed over 3 days. This was confirmed on histopathological analysis. A significant linear trend in re-epithelialization across the time points studied was found (F=80.48, P=0.0029). The slope of the linear regression model showed an estimate rate of re-epithelialization of -6.70 over the 3 days. Conclusion: We have described the development of a simple, whole organ, rabbit cornea culture model for re-epithelialization after PTK. Our rates of epithelial healing resemble those found in the literature in live rabbit models. Therefore, this model may possibly be used to monitor epithelial wound healing in different corneal diseases or injuries.
- Wound healing
ASJC Scopus subject areas