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Apoptosis in the Cornea after Photo-refractive Keratectomy

1Szentmáry N., 1Resch M., 1Nagy Z. Z., 2Szende B., 1Süveges I.,
1Medical University Semmelweis, 1st Department of Ophthalmology (Budapest)
2Semmelweis Egyetem, I. sz. Kórbonctani és Kísérleti Rákkutató Intézet (Budapest)

Purpose: To evaluate apoptosis and histological changes of the cornea after photorefractive keratectomy.
Methods: 17 rabbits were anesthetized systemically with ketamine and photorefractive keratectomy (-6.0 D, 6 mm optical zone) was performed on one eye. Rabbits were killed and corneas examined in 5 groups: 1, 4, 7, 14 and 28 days after photorefractive keratectomy. All groups were compared with untreated control eyes. The terminal deoxyribonucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP-digoxigenin nick-end labelling assay (to detect DNA fragmentation in situ) and light microscopy have been used to detect apoptosis. Ag-impregnation, hematoxylin-eosin, alcian-blue, trichrome and PAS staining and light microscopy were used in detecting the structural changes of the corneas.
Results: Keratocyte apoptosis was observed 4, 7, 14 days after photorefractive keratectomy. 3 corneas had to be excluded because of postoperative inflammation. The normal cornea exhibited a limited level of apoptosis.
Conclusions: Photorefractive keratectomy triggered apoptosis of corneal keratocytes. The level and distribution of keratocyte apoptosis are likely to be important determinants of corneal wound healing process, but the regulatory mechanisms have not been characterized.

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