Anno: 2023, EEBA

Autori: Giurgola L.; Gatto C.; Rodella U.; D’Amato Tóthová J.

Descemet’s membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) is a frequently used treatment option for patients with corneal endothelial dysfunction.
The aim of this study was to set up a method to prepare porcine DMEK grafts and to simulate DMEK surgery in porcine eye bulbs in order to
establish an ex-vivo-model for laboratory investigations on DMEK surgery conditions.

Ten (n=10) porcine eye bulbs from domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domestica), between 6 and 8 months old, were recovered at a local slaughterhouse, transported on ice and processed within 2 h after death. Porcine eye bulbs were decontaminated by immersion in 10 mL of 5% povidone-iodine and corneas were dissected under aseptic conditions, leaving approximately 2 mm of the scleral rim. DMEK grafts were prepared by means of mechanical stripping technique using specific surgical instruments for DMEK (Moria, France) on fresh corneas (n=2) and on corneas stored in Eusol-C (AL.CHI.MI.A. Srl, Italy) at 4°C for 7 days (n=4) and for 14 days (n=4). Endothelial cell (EC) density was compared before DMEK-preparation (specular and light microscopy on trypan blue stained tissues) and after DMEK-preparation (fluorescence microscopy on Calcein-AM stained tissues). DMEK graft injection was simulated in anterior chamber of fresh porcine eye bulbs.

The porcine DMEK grafts preparation resulted to be more challenging compared to human DMEK grafts. Despite similarity between human and porcine corneas, porcine Descemet membrane (DM) firmly adheres to the underlying stroma. DMEK grafts preparation was not successful at day 0; DMEK preparation was possible by mechanical stripping technique on corneas stored in Eusol-C for 7 and 14 days obtaining naturally rolled endo-out porcine DMEK grafts. An EC mortality increase up to 20% was observed on DMEK graft compared to initial whole corneal tissue. DMEK roll injection was successfully simulated in anterior chamber of the porcine eye bulb.

Naturally rolled DMEK endo-out grafts were successfully prepared by mechanical stripping technique on porcine corneal tissues stored in Eusol-C at 4°C (up to 14 days). DMEK Surgery including the tissue injection in anterior chamber could be simulated. Further studies will be performed to improve ex-vivo-porcine DMEK surgery model.