A simple organ culture model for assessing the effects of growth factors on corneal re-epithelialization

D. M. Foreman, S. Pancholi, J. Jarvis-Evans, D. McLeod, M. E. Boulton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Scopus citations


The effects of growth factors on re-epithelialization of wounded human and bovine corneas were studied in a simple organ culture system. Excisional trephine and epithelial scrape wounds were created on bovine and human corneo-scleral rings in which the endothelial corneal concavity was then filled with an agar-collagen mixture. Organ culture was undertaken at 37°C in a humidified 5% CO2 incubator with serum-free Medium 199 maintained at the level of the conjunctival epithelium. Rates of re-epithelialization in response to addition of exogenous epidermal growth factor (EGF), basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and transforming growth factor type β1 (TGF-β1) were assessed by image analysis. Corneal cultures could be maintained for up to 3 weeks without significant stromal oedema or keratocyte deterioration and with little loss of epithelial architecture. Following wounding the cornea re-epithelialized in a similar fashion to that observed in vivo i.e. a lag phase followed by migration/proliferation and the reformation of an intact multilayered epithelium. EGF accelerated, basic FGF had no effect on, and TGF-β1 inhibited the rate of corneal re-epithelialization. Our organ culture model maintains corneal integrity and provides a practical system in which to study factors that modulate corneal re-epithelialization following wounding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-564
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental eye research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996


  • Cornea
  • EGF
  • FGF
  • Growth factors
  • Organ culture
  • Re-epithelialization
  • TGF-β
  • Wound healing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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