Femtosecond laser cutting of human corneas for the subbasal nerve plexus evaluation

B. S. Kowtharapu, C. Marfurt, M. Hovakimyan, F. Will, H. Richter, A. Wree, O. Stachs, R. F. Guthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Assessment of various morphological parameters of the corneal subbasal nerve plexus is a valuable method of documenting the structural and presumably functional integrity of the corneal innervation in health and disease. The aim of this work is to establish a rapid, reliable and reproducible method for visualization of the human corneal SBP using femtosecond laser cut corneal tissue sections. Trephined healthy corneal buttons were fixed and processed using TissueSurgeon—a femtosecond laser based microtome, to obtain thick tissue sections of the corneal epithelium and anterior stroma cut parallel to the ocular surface within approximately 15 min. A near infrared femtosecond laser was focused on to the cornea approximately 70–90 μm from the anterior surface to induce material separation using TissueSurgeon. The obtained corneal sections were stained following standard immunohistochemical procedures with anti-neuronal β-III tubulin antibody for visualization of the corneal nerves. Sections that contained the epithelium and approximately 20–30 μm of anterior stroma yielded excellent visualisation of the SBP with minimal optical interference from underlying stromal nerves. In conclusion, the results of this study have demonstrated that femtosecond laser cutting of the human cornea offers greater speed, ease and reliability than standard tissue preparation methods for obtaining high quality thick sections of the anterior cornea cut parallel to the ocular surface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Cornea
  • TissueSurgeon
  • femtosecond laser microtomy
  • subbasal nerve plexus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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    Kowtharapu, B. S., Marfurt, C., Hovakimyan, M., Will, F., Richter, H., Wree, A., Stachs, O., & Guthoff, R. F. (2017). Femtosecond laser cutting of human corneas for the subbasal nerve plexus evaluation. Journal of Microscopy, 265(1), 21-26. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmi.12457