Coculture of autologous limbal and conjunctival epithelial cells to treat severe ocular surface disorders: long-term survival analysis.

Research paper by Sandhya V SV Subramaniam, Kunjal K Sejpal, Anees A Fatima, Subhash S Gaddipati, Geeta K GK Vemuganti, Virender S VS Sangwan

Indexed on: 05 Apr '13Published on: 05 Apr '13Published in: Indian journal of ophthalmology


Cultivated limbal epithelium for reconstruction of corneal surface is a well-established procedure; however, it is not adequate for damage which also extensively involves the conjunctiva. In severe cases of ocular surface damage that warrant additional conjunctival transplantation apart from cultivated limbal stem cell transplantation, we describe the long-term survival of a novel method of cocultivating autologous limbal and conjunctival epithelium on a single substrate.Forty eyes of 39 patients with severe limbal stem cell deficiency and conjunctival scarring or symblepharon underwent transplantation of autologous cocultivated epithelium on human amniotic membrane. A ring barrier was used to segregate the central limbal and peripheral conjunctival epithelia in vitro. Patients were followed up at regular intervals to assess stability of the ocular surface, defined by absence of conjunctivalization into the central 4 mm of the cornea and absence of diffuse fluorescein staining. Penetrating keratoplasty (PKP) was subsequently performed, where indicated, in patients with surface stability.The cumulative survival probability was 60% at 1 year and 45% at 4 years by Kaplan-Meier analysis (mean follow-up duration: 33 ± 29 months, range: 1-87 months). Best-corrected visual acuity improved to greater than 20/200 in 38% eyes at the last follow-up, compared with 5% eyes before surgery. Immunohistochemistry in five of the corneal buttons excised for PKP showed an epithelial phenotype similar to cornea in all five.Synchronous use of cultured limbal and conjunctival epithelium offers a feasible alternative and a simpler one-step surgical approach to treat severe ocular surface disorders involving limbus and conjunctiva.