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Morphological characteristics of the limbal epithelial crypt

Shanmuganathan, Vijay A.; Foster, Toshana; Kulkarni, Bina B.; Hopkinson, Andrew; Gray, Trevor; Powe, Des G.; Lowe, James; Dua, Harminder S.


Vijay A. Shanmuganathan

Bina B. Kulkarni

Andrew Hopkinson

Trevor Gray

Des G. Powe

James Lowe

Harminder S. Dua


Aim: In 2005 we reported the discovery of a novel anatomical structure at the limbus, which we termed the limbal epithelial crypt (LEC). The purpose of this study was to further evaluate the distribution, immunophenotypical, and ultra structural characteristics of the LEC as a putative niche of stem cells.
Methods: Sequential histological sections of human corneo-scleral limbal rims were examined for the presence and distribution of the LEC. Immunophenotypical characterisation of the LEC cells using a panel of antibodies of interest was undertaken. Transmission electron microscopy of the LEC was used to examine the ultra structural and morphometric features of cells within the LEC and adjacent limbus.
Results: A total of 74 LECs were identified in eight corneo-scleral rims. These varied in number, size and distribution within rims. Cells within the crypt demonstrated the following phenotype: CK3?/CK19+/CD 34?/Vimentin+/p63+/Connexin 43+/MIB1 (Ki67)?. Presence of Cx43 was also demonstrated in the rete pegs adjacent to the LEC. Basal cells of the LEC were significantly smaller than basal cells found in adjacent rete pegs and also smaller than suprabasal limbal and central corneal epithelial cells (p

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 4, 2006
Online Publication Date Oct 4, 2006
Publication Date Mar 19, 2007
Deposit Date Mar 22, 2019
Journal British Journal of Ophthalmology
Print ISSN 0007-1161
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 91
Issue 4
Pages 514-519
Public URL
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