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Papers of the Week

2022 Nov 15

Polymers (Basel)



Synthetic Heparan Sulfate Mimetic Polymer Enhances Corneal Nerve Regeneration and Wound Healing after Experimental Laser Ablation Injury in Mice.


Alcalde I, Sánchez-Fernández C, Del Olmo-Aguado S, Martín C, Olmiere C, Artime E, Quirós LM, Merayo-Lloves J
Polymers (Basel). 2022 Nov 15; 14(22).
PMID: 36433048.


(1) Background: Abnormal corneal wound healing compromises visual acuity and can lead to neuropathic pain. Conventional treatments usually fail to restore the injured corneal tissue. In this study, we evaluated the effectiveness of a synthetic heparan sulfate mimetic polymer (HSmP) in a mouse model of corneal wound healing. (2) Methods: A surgical laser ablation affecting the central cornea and subbasal nerve plexus of mice was used as a model of the wound-healing assay. Topical treatment with HSmP was contrasted to its vehicle and a negative control (BSS). Corneal repair was studied using immunofluorescence to cell proliferation (Ki67), apoptosis (TUNEL assay), myofibroblast transformation (αSMA), assembly of epithelial cells (E-cadherin) and nerve regeneration (β-tubulin III). (3) Results: At the end of the treatment, normal epithelial cytoarchitecture and corneal thickness were achieved in HSmP-treated animals. HSmP treatment reduced myofibroblast occurrence compared to eyes irrigated with vehicle ( < 0.01) or BSS ( < 0.001). The HSmP group showed 50% more intraepithelial nerves than the BSS or vehicle groups. Only HSmP-treated corneas improved the visual quality to near transparent. (4) Conclusions: These results suggest that HSmP facilitates the regeneration of the corneal epithelium and innervation, as well as restoring transparency and reducing myofibroblast scarring after laser experimental injury.