Stem cell therapy has been a hot topic in eye care for years. Limbal stem cells are now routinely transplanted to treat limbal stem cell deficiency and, most recently, researchers successfully used stem cells to restore scleral integrity and vascularization in eyes with progressive scleral necrosis.1,2

For the cornea, research shows mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can help to clear corneal opacities following trauma, limit inflammation and promote tissue repair at the ocular surface.3,4 But the best way to administer the novel therapy remains an unanswered question. With this in mind, researchers evaluated the efficacies of four MSC delivery methods—topical, subconjunctival, intraperitoneal (IP) and intravenous (IV)—to restore corneal transparency in a mouse model of corneal injury.4 They found that the subconjunctival and IV routes have superior therapeutic efficacy to other methods following corneal injury.4

The team noted that subconjunctival and IV administration each resulted in increased frequencies of MSCs in ocular surface tissues following corneal injury. They added that both delivery modes reduced corneal opacity, tissue fibrosis, inflammatory cytokines expression and CD45+ inflammatory cell infiltration.

The study authors concluded that administration via subconjunctival injection or IV accelerated corneal repair by restoring tissue architecture and epithelial integrity.4 

1. Holland EJ. Management of limbal stem cell deficiency: A historical perspective, past, present, and future. Cornea. 2015;34(Suppl 10):S9-15.

2. Kim JT, Kim KW, Mun SK, et al. Transplantation of autologous perichondrium with amniotic membrane for progressive scleral necrosis. Ocul Surf. May 18, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

3. Mittal SK, Omoto M, Amouzegar A, et al. Restoration of corneal transparency by mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cell Reports. 2016;7(4):583-90.

4. Shukla S, Mittal SK, Foulsham W, et al. Therapeutic efficacy of different routes of mesenchymal stem cell administration in corneal injury. Ocul Surf. July 3, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].