Proliferation rate of rabbit corneal epithelium during overnight rigid contact lens wear

P. M. Ladage, K. Yamamoto, D. H. Ren, L. Li, J. V. Jester, Walter M Petroll, J. P G Bergmanson, Harrison D Cavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


PURPOSE. To examine cell proliferation of the normal corneal epithelium and during extended rigid gas-permeable (RGP) lens wear. METHODS. Twenty-three New Zealand White rabbits were fitted unilaterally with either a low oxygen transmissible (Dk/t) or hyper-Dk/t RGP lens, with the other eye serving as a control. The rabbits were injected with 5-bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU) 24-hours later and killed at three time points: 1, 3, and 7 days after injection. Corneas were processed for immunocytochemistry, and sequential digital images were taken from the superior limbus to the central epithelium with an epifluorescence microscope. The total number of BrdU-labeled cell pairs was quantified. RESULTS. The limbus in normal corneas was significantly less populated with BrdU-labeled cells than the central and peripheral epithelium (P < 0.05). The peripheral epithelium adjacent to the limbus was marked by a peak of labeled cells (P < 0.05). Both types of RGP lenses produced an increase in BrdU labeling in the limbus and a dramatic decrease in the central epithelium (80% for low Dk/t, 37% for hyper Dk/t). At day 3 and 7 after BrdU injection, the low-Dk/t lens continued to show decreased BrdU labeling centrally, whereas the limbus remained increased. Hyper-Dk/t lens wear however, showed persistent limbal elevation but equivalent numbers of BrdUlabeled cells centrally at days 3 and 7, compared with control corneas. Keratocytes unexpectedly showed BrdU labeling during RGP lens wear. CONCLUSIONS. Limbus, peripheral, and central epithelium were characterized by different proliferation rates in the normal rabbit cornea. RGP lens wear significantly altered the homeostatic proliferation pattern of the epithelium with the low-Dk/t lens having the most dramatic effect. RGP contact lens wear appears to stimulate proliferation of keratocytes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2804-2812
Number of pages9
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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