The corneal endothelium is the posterior monolayer of cells that are responsible for maintaining overall transparency of the avascular corneal tissue via pump function. These cells are non-regenerative in vivo and therefore, approximately 40% of corneal transplants undertaken worldwide are a result of damage or dysfunction of endothelial cells. The number of available corneal donor tissues is limited worldwide, hence, cultivation of human corneal endothelial cells (hCECs) in vitro has been attempted in order to produce tissue engineered corneal endothelial grafts. Researchers have attempted to recreate the current gold standard treatment of replacing the endothelial layer with accompanying Descemet's membrane or a small portion of stroma as support with tissue engineering strategies using various substrates of both biologically derived and synthetic origin. Here we review the potential biomaterials that are currently in development to support the transplantation of a cultured monolayer of hCECs.
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- cell culture
- endothelial cells
- tissue engineering