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Synthetic biodegradable alternatives to the use of the amniotic membrane for corneal regeneration: assessment of local and systemic toxicity in rabbits


Aim The aim of this study was to assess the local and systemic response to poly-lactic co-glycolic acid (PLGA) 50:50 membranes, developed as synthetic biodegradable alternatives to the use of human donor amniotic membrane in the treatment of limbal stem cell deficiency.

Methods PLGA membranes of 2  cm diameter and 50  µm thickness were placed on one eye of rabbits and secured in place using fibrin glue and a bandage contact lens, suturing the eye close with a single stitch. Control animals were treated identically, with the absence of the membranes. Plain and microfabricated electrospun membranes (containing micropockets which roughly emulate the native limbal niche) were examined over 29 days. All animals were subjected to a detailed gross and histopathological observation as well as a detailed examination of the eye.

Results Application of the membranes both with and without microfabricated pockets did not adversely affect animal welfare. There was complete degradation of the membranes by day 29. The membranes did not induce any significant local or systemic toxicity. Conjunctival congestion and corneal vascularisation were noted in a few control and PLGA-treated animals. Intraocular pressure was normal and the retinal status was unaltered. The ocular surface was clear and intact in all animals by the end of 29  days.

Conclusion Membranes of 50:50 PLGA can be safely applied to rabbit corneas without inducing any local or systemic toxicity and these break down completely within 29 days.

  • cornea
  • ocular surface
  • stem cells

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