Purpose: The demands for precut lamellar grafts for Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty rose in our eye bank from 74 in 2007 to 408 in 2010. To meet this expanding requirement, we explored the possibility to preserve these preparations in organ culture.
Methods: Organ cultured corneas, stored in a medium containing 6% dextran, were mounted on a Moria artificial anterior chamber, deprived of the epithelium and then cut with a microkeratome. The posterior lamella was protected by positioning the anterior stromal cap, trephined at a diameter of 8.5 mm and stored at 31°C in the medium containing dextran. The endothelium was examined with trypan blue and alizarin staining and tested for its glycolytic activity (conversion of glucose into lactate).
Results: Incubation for a period of 1 week caused a small increase in the cell loss observed after trephination (from 6.2% to 10.6%). After 2 weeks, the decrease in endothelial cell density was 19.9% but the endothelial organization remained intact. The rate of glycolysis remained unchanged during the 2 weeks of preservation, with the majority of glucose uptake accounted for by lactate production. The thickness of the lenticules remained constant, ranging from 170 to 180 μm during the preservation.
Conclusions: The lamellar grafts for Descemet stripping automated endothelial keratoplasty may be stored in organ culture for 2 weeks without damaging the endothelium or increasing the overall thickness.