ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Morphological Characterization of a Reconstructed Human Corneal Epithelial Model (LabCyte CORNEA-MODEL) as an Alternative to the Draize Eye Test for the Assessment of Eye Irritation

Masakazu Katoh, Noriyuki Uemura, Fumiyasu Hamajima, Takahiro Ogasawara and Ken-ichiro Hata

R&D Department, Japan Tissue Engineering Co., Ltd. Aichi, Japan

AATEX 17(1):2-8, 2012

The aim of this study was to evaluate the LabCyte CORNEA-MODEL, a commercially available reconstructed human corneal tissue, on the basis of a morphological characterization using optical microscopy, electron microscopy and the expression of specific differentiation markers through immunohistochemistry. Histological examination showed a complete corneal epithelium containing all major corneal layers, including a superficial layer, a wing cell layer, and a basal layer. In addition, the corneal epithelial marker (Cytekeratin 3), mucins (mucin-1 and mucin-16), cell adhesion molecules (E-cadherin, Claudin-1, and Desmoglein-3) and basement membrane constituents (Laminin 332) were expressed in the appropriate regions, as seen in a human corneal epithelium. In an analysis by electron microscope, well-developing microvilli were observed in the superficial layer of the LabCyte CORNEA-MODEL. In conclusion, the LabCyte CORNEA-MODEL, a reconstructed, cultured human corneal epithelial model, is highly similar to that of a native corneal epithelium. Therefore, this corneal model provides a promising alternative to animal testing, as a means to assess corneal irritation, percutaneous absorption, and other corneal tissue-related research.

key words: reconstructed human corneal epithelium, morphology, epidermis

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(AATEX: Altern. Animal Test. EXperiment.: Alternatives to Animal Testing and EXperimentation)