Corneal epithelium and the trigeminal ganglion neurons which normally innervate the epithelium have been grown in adjacent chambers of a 35 mm tissue culture plate. Dissociated nerve cells from late embryonic rats were plated inside an 8 mm cloning cylinder attached to the center of the culture plate by silicone grease. In 7-10 days neurites extended out of this inner chamber by growing through the grease seal and along parallel scratches in the collagen coating of the tissue culture plate. Once this occurred, pure corneal epithelial explants were isolated from young adult rats and plated in the area surrounding the cloning cylinder, i. e. in the outer chamber. Cultures were monitored regularly with phase microscopy and, at various times, were fixed for ultrastructural examination. Within 24-48 hours of the epithelial plating, there were both individual neurites and bundles of neurites in contact with the epithelium. This interaction increased substantially over the next few days. Growth cones of the neurites could be seen to approach the microvilli-covered surface of the epithelium, travel over the surface and penetrate between the epithelial cells. This tissue culture model of the innervated ocular surface may prove valuable in the study of a variety of ocular conditions or diseases, as well as provide a means to study functional relationships and mechanisms of cellular interaction between neurons and their target cells.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Current Eye Research|
|State||Published - 1987|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (EY 04659) to Drs. Pozos and Forbes and from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc. to the University of Minnesota Department of Ophthalmology. The technical assistance of E. Gannon, B. Ingersoll, K. Leuer, S. Olson and secretarial assistance of M.J. Kuhlmey are gratefully acknowledged.