A review of the evidence for in vivo corneal endothelial regeneration

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Human corneal endothelium has long been thought to be a nonmitotic cell layer with no endogenous reparative potential. Pathologies that damage endothelial function result in corneal decompensation and, if untreated, blindness. The mainstay of treatment involves partial or complete corneal replacement, amounting to 40% of all corneal transplants performed worldwide. We summarize the case reports describing complications postoperatively in the form of (sub)total graft detachment and those resulting in postoperative bare stroma. Complications during cataract and glaucoma surgeries leading to an uncovered posterior cornea are also included. We discuss the newer treatment strategies that are alternatives for current Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty and Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty, including partial grafts and stripping of the diseased cell layer. In more than half of the cases reviewed, corneal transparency returned despite incomplete or no corneal endothelial cell transplantation. We question the existing paradigm concerning corneal endothelial wound healing in vivo. The data support further clinical study to determine the safety of simple descemethorexis in central endothelial pathologies, such as Fuchs endothelial corneal dystrophy, where presence of healthy peripheral cells may allow successful corneal recompensation without the need for donor cells.




Van den Bogerd, B., Dhubhghaill, S. N., Koppen, C., Tassignon, M. J., & Zakaria, N. (2018, March 1). A review of the evidence for in vivo corneal endothelial regeneration. Survey of Ophthalmology. Elsevier USA. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.survophthal.2017.07.004

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