The present and the prospect of bioengineering cornea
Corneal blindness represents one of the world’s three major causes of blindness, and the fundamental problem of corneal transplantation is a severe shortage of donor tissues worldwide, resulting in approximately 1.5 million new cases of blindness annually. To address the growing need for corneal transplants two main approaches are being pursued: allogenic and bioengineering cornea. Bioengineering corneas are constructed by naturally generating an extracellular matrix (ECM) component as the scaffold structure with or without corneal cells. It is well established that the scaffold structure directs the fate of cells, therefore, the fabrication of the correct scaffold structure components could produce an ideal corneal substitute, able to mimic the native corneal function. Another key factor in the construction of tissue engineering cornea is seed cells. However, unlike the epithelium and stroma cells, human cornea endothelium cells (HCECs) are notorious for having a limited proliferative capacity in vivo because of the mitotic block at the G1 phase of the cell cycle due to “contact-inhibition”. This review will focus on the main concepts of recent progress towards the scaffold and seed cells, especially endothelial cells for bioengineering cornea, along with future perspectives.