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Subconjunctival injection of mesenchymal stem cells for corneal failure due to limbal stem cell deficiency: state of the art
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BioMed Central. Springer Nature
Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2021) 12:60
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have unique and beneficial properties and are currently used to treat a broad variety of diseases. These properties include the potential for differentiation into other cell types, secretion of different trophic factors that promote a regenerative microenvironment, anti-inflammatory actions, selective migration to damaged tissues, and non-immunogenicity. MSCs are effective for the treatment of ocular surface diseases such as dry eye, corneal burns, and limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), both in experimental models and in humans. LSCD is a pathological condition in which damage occurs to the limbal epithelial stem cells, or their niche, that are responsible for the continuous regeneration of the corneal epithelium. If LSCD is extensive and/or severe, it usually causes corneal epithelial defects, ulceration, and conjunctival overgrowth of the cornea. These changes can result in neovascularization and corneal opacity, severe inflammation, pain, and visual loss. The effectiveness of MSCs to reduce corneal opacity, neovascularization, and inflammation has been widely studied in different experimental models of LSCD and in some clinical trials; however, the methodological disparity used in the different studies makes it hard to compare outcomes among them. In this regard, the MSC route of administration used to treat LSCD and other ocular surface diseases is an important factor. It should be efficient, minimally invasive, and safe. So far, intravenous and intraperitoneal injections, topical administration, and MSC transplantation using carrier substrata like amniotic membrane (AM), fibrin, or synthetic biopolymers have been the most commonly used administration routes in experimental models. However, systemic administration carries the risk of potential side effects and transplantation requires surgical procedures that could complicate the process. Alternatively, subconjunctival injection is a minimally invasive and straightforward technique frequently used in ophthalmology. It enables performance of local treatments using high cell doses. In this review, we provide an overview of the current status of MSC administration by subconjunctival injection, analyzing the convenience, safety, and efficacy for treatment of corneal failure due to LSCD in different experimental models. We also provide a summary of the clinical trials that have been completed, are in progress, or being planned.
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Consejería de Educación, Junta de Castilla y León (Proyecto VA268P18 FEDER, EU); Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (Proyecto PID2019-105525RB-100, MICINN/FEDER);Instituto de Saludo Carlos III, CIBER-BBN (CB06/01/003 MICINN/FEDER, EU); Centro en Red de Medicina Regenerativa y Terapia Celular de Castilla y León.
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