Ex Vivo Corneal Organ Culture Model for Wound Healing Studies

Nileyma Castro, Stephanie R. Gillespie, Audrey M. Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The cornea has been used extensively as a model system to study wound healing. The ability to generate and utilize primary mammalian cells in two dimensional (2D) and three dimensional (3D) culture has generated a wealth of information not only about corneal biology but also about wound healing, myofibroblast biology, and scarring in general. The goal of the protocol is an assay system for quantifying myofibroblast development, which characterizes scarring. We demonstrate a corneal organ culture ex vivo model using pig eyes. In this anterior keratectomy wound, corneas still in the globe are wounded with a circular blade called a trephine. A plug of approximately 1/3 of the anterior cornea is removed including the epithelium, the basement membrane, and the anterior part of the stroma. After wounding, corneas are cut from the globe, mounted on a collagen/agar base, and cultured for two weeks in supplemented-serum free medium with stabilized vitamin C to augment cell proliferation and extracellular matrix secretion by resident fibroblasts. Activation of myofibroblasts in the anterior stroma is evident in the healed cornea. This model can be used to assay wound closure, the development of myofibroblasts and fibrotic markers, and for toxicology studies. In addition, the effects of small molecule inhibitors as well as lipid-mediated siRNA transfection for gene knockdown can be tested in this system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere58562
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number144
StatePublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Cornea
  • Ex vivo
  • Fibrosis
  • Issue 144
  • Medicine
  • Myofibroblast
  • Organ culture
  • Scarring


Dive into the research topics of 'Ex Vivo Corneal Organ Culture Model for Wound Healing Studies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this