Background: In clinical trials, eyes transplanted with cultured oral mucosal epithelial cell sheets have shown increased neovascularisation compared with eyes treated with cultured corneal epithelial cell sheets. As reported recently, soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-1 (soluble VEGFr-1) is a main factor to maintain a corneal avascularity.
Aim: To investigate soluble VEGFr-1 of cultured corneal epithelial cells (CCE) and cultured oral mucosal epithelial cells (COE) in vitro.
Methods: Rabbit corneal and oral mucosal epithelial cells were co-cultured with mitomycin C-treated NIH/3T3 cells on culture plates. After CCE and COE were multilayered, culture medium was replaced by basal medium and incubated. Protein secretion of soluble VEGFr-1 was assessed in conditioned medium from CCE and COE by ELISA. Angiogenic potential was examined by invasion, migration assays with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) in addition to recombinant soluble VEGFr-1.
Results: CCE secreted a significantly higher amount of soluble VEGFr-1 than did COE. Recombinant soluble VEGFr-1 significantly suppressed HUVEC migration induced by COE, without suppression in CCE. In conclusion, these findings suggest that low protein levels of soluble VEGFr-1 may lead to corneal neovascularisation after COE sheet transplantation.
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Funding: This work was supported by The Osaka Medical Research Foundation for Incurable Diseases in Japan.
Competing interests: None.