Published: 2 January 2021
The corneal endothelium is the innermost layer of the cornea that selectively pumps ions and metabolites and regulates the hydration level of the cornea, ensuring its transparency. Trauma or disease affecting human corneal endothelial cells (hCECs) can result in major imbalances of such transport activity with consequent deterioration or loss of vision. Since tissue transplantation from deceased donors is only available to a fraction of patients worldwide, alternative solutions are urgently needed. Cell therapy approaches, in particular by attempting to expand primary culture of hCECs in vitro, aim to tackle this issue. However, existing cell culture protocols result in limited expansion of this cell type. Recent studies in this field have shown that topographical features with specific dimensions and shapes could improve the efficacy of hCEC expansion. Therefore, potential solutions to overcome the limitation of the conventional culture of hCECs may include recreating nanometer scale topographies (nanotopographies) that mimic essential biophysical cues present in their native environment. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge and understanding of the effect of substrate topographies on the response of hCECs. Moreover, we also review the latest developments for the nanofabrication of such bio-instructive cell substrates.
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