1. Department of Ophthalmology, Yan' An Hospital of Kunming City, Kunming, 650051, China;
2. Department of Ophthalmology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, 210029, China;
3. Shenzhen Eye Hospital, School of Optometry & Ophthalmology of Shenzhen University, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Department of Ophthalmology, Shenzhen, 518000, China;
4. Department of Ophthalmology, the Second People's Hospital of Yunnan Province, Kunming, 650021, China;
5. Research and Development Department, TissueTech, Inc., 7000 SW 97th Avenue, Suite 212, Miami, FL 33173, USA.
* The first three authors contributed equally to this manuscript.
Corneal endothelial cells play a critical role in maintaining corneal transparency and dysfunction of these cells caused by aging, diseases (such as Fuch's dystrophy), injury or surgical trauma, which can lead to corneal edema and blindness. Due to their limited proliferative capacity in vivo, the only treatment method is via transplantation of a cadaver donor cornea. However, there is a severe global shortage of donor corneas. To circumvent such issues, tissue engineering of corneal tissue is a viable option thanks to the recent discoveries in this field. In this review, we summarize the recent advances in reprogramming adult human corneal endothelial cells into their progenitor status, the expansion methods and characteristics of human corneal endothelial progenitors, and their potential clinical applications as corneal endothelial cell grafts.
Keywords: Cornea, Endothelial, Progenitors, Tissue Engineering.