, Volume 52, Issue 16, pp 2216-2225

Induction of corneal epithelial progenitors from bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cells of rhesus monkeys in vitro

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Bioengineered corneas are substitutes for human donor tissue that are designed to treat severe disease affecting ocular surfaces. However, a shortage of candidate seed cells for bioengineering corneas is still a problem. Bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are capable of multilineage differentiation. Therefore, we determined whether MSCs differentiate into corneal epithelial cells (ECs). We applied three exoteric-microenvironmental systems to induce MSCs to become ECs. Induced MSC were identified by means of morphologic examination, immunocytochemical analysis, and flow cytometry. MSCs grown in one microenvironment had characteristics similar to those of corneal epithelial progenitors. Induced MSCs expressed markers for EC, including integrin β1, Cx43, Pax6, and P63. MSCs were successfully induced to become corneal epithelial progenitors. Therefore, the use of MSCs may hold substantial promise for reconstructing the ocular surface after corneal injury.