Programm                 "Degeneration und Regeneration– Grundlagen, Diagnostik und Therapie"

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Distribution of p63 and Keratin 19 in Human Corneas

Keller G. K. I., Nietgen A., Salla S. , Kuckelkorn R., Schrage N. F.
Universitäts-Augenklinik, RWTH Aachen

Purpose: Stem cells of the corneal epithelium are exclusively located at the limbus and are the source of regeneration of the entire corneal epithelium The aim of the present study was to determine the distribution of p 63 and Keratin 19 as a possible stem cell marker
Method: Frozen sections of 20 human corneas of 20 different donors were analysed. The mean patients´ age was 59 years. Histological examination showed no underlying corneal pathology. The corneas were checked by immunofluorescence for the presence of Keratin 19 and p 63 with specific antibodies.
Results: Expression of p 63 was seen indiscriminately throughout the entire epithelium. There was no significant expression in the limbal stem cell niches. K 19 showed a continuous deminuished expression from the limbal zone to the central cornea and decreasing from the basal to the apical cell layer. There could not be evaluated a specific stem cell characteristic marker. Whether keratocytes nor corneal endothelium showed a positive result. There was no difference in age or sex.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that p 63 and k 19 are excellent epithelial markers, however not a specific corneal stem cell marker. The exact localization of stem cells will be of practical importance for future clinical applications such as ex vivo cultivation of autologeous limbal stem cells. Further studies to look for a specific corneal stem cell ma

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