2014 Volume 22 Pages 117-123
Artificial corneas have been studied in various ways, but promising materials or methods have not yet been established specifically for the corneal stroma. Anatomically, the corneal stroma consists of precisely aligned collagen layers and keratocytes. This unique structure is thought to be associated with corneal transparency. Here, we investigated the use of fibrous material as an artificial corneal stroma. Aligned nanofiber non-woven mats can easily be fabricated from an aqueous fibroin solution by using an electrospinning technique. We evaluated the possibility of using our aligned electrospun fibroin nanofiber mat as a novel artificial corneal stroma. From in vitro experiments, seeded corneal stromal cells migrated into the space of the fibroin fiber mat as well as adhered to the surface. These migrating and adhering cells kept its phenotype. Similar phenomena also confirmed in vivo implantation test. Three weeks after surgery, host-derived corneal stromal cells were migrated into implanted fibroin fiber mat. Inflammatory or immune responses against the implanted fibroin fiber mat were not seen till 3 weeks after surgery. These findings strongly suggest that our fibroin aligned fiber mat will be useful as an artificial cornea. For clinical use we must first improve the mat's transparency.