Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 56: 3584-3592, 2015 Online version
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Abstract: To explore the utility of multimodal microscopy as a noninvasive tool to assess corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) efficacy, we investigated the correlation between riboflavin (RF) axial profile, second harmonic generation (SHG) imaging, and histological/biochemical changes of human corneas after RF-ultraviolet A (UVA)-catalyzed CXL.De-epithelialized human corneoscleral tissues were imaged by confocal and multiphoton microscopy to study RF tissue diffusion profile and SHG-based roughness index (Rq) after CXL. We installed 0.1% RF for 5, 10, and 20 minutes, respectively, followed by UVA irradiation, while dextran drug vehicle-treated corneas served as controls. Masson’s trichrome staining and collagenase digestion assay were employed to assess ultrastructural modifications of collagen lamellae and bioenzymatic strength following RF-UVA CXL.Stromal absorption of RF was significantly higher in 20 minutes compared with 5- and 10-minute drug instillations. The roughness index of SHG images was reduced after RF-UVA CXL at all RF instillation time points compared with dextran controls. Interestingly, correlation between axial profiles of RF dosage and Rq index was only observed in 10- and 20-minute RF instillations (R(2) = 0.13 and 0.28, respectively, all P < 0.05), but not in the 5-minute group. Masson’s trichrome staining revealed collagen fibril compaction in cross-linked corneas in an RF dose-dependent manner. Collagenase digestion assay showed significantly increased biochemical strength by higher RF doses in cross-linked corneas.Intrastromal RF distribution profiles correlated with histological and functional property changes in RF-UVA cross-linked corneas. A riboflavin-defined threshold further determined the sensitivity of SHG imaging as a noninvasive imaging modality to assess the efficacy of RF-UVA CXL.
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