Isolated Corneal Epithelial Stem Cells Derived from Limbal Biopsies: Use of Lectin as a Marker for Identifying Transient Amplifying Cells

  • Luciana Dini
  • Cristian Vergallo
Part of the Stem Cells and Cancer Stem Cells book series (STEM, volume 3)


The human transplant of in vitro expanded Limbal Stem Cells (LSCs) represents one of the few available practices using Stem Cells (SCs) for clinical purpose. In certain pathologies as well as accidental injuries, the partial or complete destruction of cornea with the adjacent LSCs result in the vision impairment. A transplant of in vitro-produced corneal epithelium may restore a good eye-sight. Long term restoration of visual function requires renewal of the corneal epithelium, through the continue replacement from SC population. Thus, evaluation of the SC percentage in the engineered cell sheet before transplantation, is very important. In the last years, progress has been done towards the development of molecular markers that could distinguish SCs in vitro, thus being considered unambiguous for LSCs. Indeed nowadays, two markers are used for the identification of LSCs. The first is the ATP Binding Cassette transporter protein subtype G2 (ABCG2) that, however, is not specific only for LSCs. The other marker is the Lycopersicon esculentum Lectin (LEL), that binds N-Acetyl-Glucosamine (GlcNAc) oligomers, labelling intensely only the cell surface of a subphenotype of the LSCs, called early Transient Amplifying Cells (eTACs). Thus, this lectin is an useful and easy-to-use marker for the in vitro identification of Transient Amplifying Cells (TACs). In this review we will discuss the importance of LSCs, and the new methodologies for their isolation, cultivation and in vitro identification.


GlcNAc DNA ATP EDTA Lycopersicon esculentum LSC dysfunction 



ATP Binding Cassette transporter protein, subtype G2 also known as Breast Cancer Resistant Protein 1


Amniotic Membrane Transplantation


40-kDa Basement Membrane protein also known as Secreted Protein, Acidic and Rich in Cysteine


Cluster of Differentiation;




Extracellular Matrix


Epidermal Growth Factor-Receptor


early Transient Amplifying Cell






Human Amniotic Membrane


Hepatocyte Growth Factor-Receptor also known as mesenchymal-epithelial transition factor


Human Leukocyte Antigen


Interferon-Induced Transmembrane protein 1


Integral Membrane protein 2A



KGF-R bek

Keratinocyte Growth Factor-Receptor and bacterially expressed kinase


Keratan Sulfate


Lycopersicon esculentum Lectin


Limbal Stem Cell;


late Transient Amplifying Cell


Maakia amurensis Agglutinin


Nerve Growth Factor-Receptor and Tropomyosin-receptor kinase A


Protein Kinase C-gamma isoform


Peanut Agglutinin


Stem Cell


Small Proline-Rich Region proteins;


Transient Amplifying Cell


Transcription Factor 4


Transforming Growth Factor-beta-Receptor, type I and II


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental Science and TechnologyUniversity of the SalentoLeceItaly

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