Decellularised human and porcine conjunctiva as a matrix for ocular surface reconstruction

Ocular surface disorders such as autoimmune diseases or chemical/thermal burns can lead to severe, progressive damage to the ocular surface, pain and impairment of vision. Surgical reconstruction of the conjunctival tissue and transplantation of a substitute is often the only possibility to reduce this discomfort.

The aim of this study is to generate a mechanically stable and reproducible substitute for the reconstruction of the ocular surface. Cell free (decellularised) human and porcine conjunctival tissue will be evaluated as a potential matrix for reconstruction of conjunctiva.

First, the decellularisation process and extracellular matrix preservation will be evaluated and optimised by histologyl and immunohistochemistry. After this, human conjunctival epithelial cells will be cultivated on the matrices, and their proliferative capacity and preservation of progenitor cells will be evaluated (immunohistochemistry, Western blot, qRT-PCR). The biocompatibility, biomechanical characteristics and the rescue of conjunctival defects will be studied in an in vivo model.

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