Methods for Investigating Corneal Cell Interactions and Extracellular Vesicles In Vitro

Tina B. McKay, Xiaoqing Guo, Audrey E.K. Hutcheon, Dimitrios Karamichos, Joseph B. Ciolino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Science and medicine have become increasingly “human-centric” over the years. A growing shift away from the use of animals in basic research has led to the development of sophisticated in vitro models of various tissues utilizing human-derived cells to study physiology and disease. The human cornea has likewise been modeled in vitro using primary cells derived from corneas obtained from cadavers or post-transplantation. By utilizing a cell's intrinsic ability to maintain its tissue phenotype in a pre-designed microenvironment containing the required growth factors, physiological temperature, and humidity, tissue-engineered corneas can be grown and maintained in culture for relatively long periods of time on the scale of weeks to months. Due to its transparency and avascularity, the cornea is an optimal tissue for studies of extracellular matrix and cell-cell interactions, toxicology and permeability of drugs, and underlying mechanisms of scarring and tissue regeneration. This paper describes methods for the cultivation of corneal keratocytes, fibroblasts, epithelial, and endothelial cells for in vitro applications. We also provide detailed, step-by-step protocols for assembling and culturing 3D constructs of the corneal stroma, epithelial- and endothelial-stromal co-cultures and isolation of extracellular vesicles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere114
JournalCurrent protocols in cell biology / editorial board, Juan S. Bonifacino ... [et al.]
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • co-culture
  • corneal endothelial cells
  • corneal epithelial cells
  • extracellular vesicles
  • keratocytes


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