Poly (ε-caprolactone) nanofibrous ring surrounding a polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel for the development of a biocompatible two-part artificial cornea
Haleh Bakhshandeh1, Masoud Soleimani2, Saied Shah Hosseini3, Hassan Hashemi3, Iman Shabani4, Abbas Shafiee5, Amir Houshang Behesht Nejad6, Mohammad Erfan1, Rassoul Dinarvand7, Fatemeh Atyabi7
1Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Shaheed Beheshti Medical University, Tehran, Iran; 2Hematology Department, Faculty of Medical Science, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran, Iran; 3Noor Ophthalmology Research Center, Noor Eye Hospital, Tehran, Iran; 4Nanotechnology and Tissue Engineering Department, Stem Cell Technology Research Center, Tehran, Iran; 5Stem Cell Biology Department, Stem Cell Technology Research Center, Tehran, Iran; 6Ophthalmology Department, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; 7Nanotechnology Research Center, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
Abstract: The study aimed to fabricate and characterize a 2-part artificial cornea as a substitute for penetrating keratoplasty in patients with corneal blindness. The peripheral part of the artificial cornea consisted of plasma-treated electrospun poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL) nanofibers, which were attached to a hydrogel disc of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as a central optical part. The physical properties of the prepared artificial cornea, including morphology, mechanical properties, light transmittance, and contact angle, were assessed. Cell attachment and proliferation studies were performed on rabbit limbal stem cells. The SEM image of the polymeric system showed that the peripheral part formed a highly porous scaffold that could facilitate tissue biointegration. Assessment of the mechanical properties of the peripheral nanofibrous part and the hydrogel optical part showed suitable elasticity. Young’s modulus values of the electrospun PCL skirt and PVA hydrogel core were 7.5 and 5.3 MPa, respectively, which is in line with the elasticity range of natural human cornea (0.3–7 MPa). The light transmittance of the central part was >85% when measured in the 400–800 nm wavelength range. The plasma-treated PCL nanofibrous scaffold promoted limbal stem cell adhesion and proliferation within 10 days. These results confirmed that the polymeric artificial cornea showed suitable physical properties and good biocompatibility and epithelialization ability.
Keywords: two part artificial cornea, nanofibers, electrospun, poly (ε-caprolactone), polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel, limbal stem cells