Purpose: To evaluate the therapeutic effect of human adipose-derived stem cells (hASCs) overlaid on a scleral contact lens (SCL) carrier in a rabbit model of ocular alkaline burn.
Materials and Methods: After inducing alkaline burn in 11 New Zealand white rabbits, hASCs cultured on SCLs were placed on the right eye of 5 rabbits, SCLs without cells were used in 5, and no treatment was applied in 1 eye. Each eye was examined and photographed for corneal vascularization, opacities, and epithelial defect in week 1, 2, and 4 after surgery. After 1 month, rabbits were killed and the corneas were removed and cut in half for electron and light microscopy examination.
Results: Human adipose-derived stem cells were attached to SCL surface and confluent easily. Human adipose-derived stem cells on SCL eyes showed smaller epithelial defect, less corneal opacity, corneal neovascularization relative to SCL eyes. Both groups showed no symblepharon. However, the cornea in the untreated eye was melted in 2 weeks and developed severe symblepharon.
Conclusion: Human adipose-derived stem cells on SCL can reduce inflammation and corneal haziness in severe ocular alkaline burn injury in rabbits.