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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 3032128, 11 pages
Research Article

Limbal Stem Cells from Aged Donors Are a Suitable Source for Clinical Application

1CellTec-UB, Department of Cell Biology, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
2Barcelona Tissue Bank (BTB), Banc de Sang I Teixits (BST, GenCAT), Barcelona, Spain
3Department of Surgery, School of Medicine & Hospital Clinic of Barcelona (IDIBAPS), University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Received 21 April 2016; Revised 2 October 2016; Accepted 9 October 2016

Academic Editor: Tao-Sheng Li

Copyright © 2016 Nuria Nieto-Nicolau et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Limbal stem cells (LSC) are the progenitor cells that maintain the transparency of the cornea. Limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) leads to corneal opacity, inflammation, scarring, and blindness. A clinical approach to treat this condition consists in LSC transplantation (LSCT) after ex vivo expansion of LSC. In unilateral LSCD, an autologous transplant is possible, but cases of bilateral LSCD require allogenic LSCT. Cadaveric donors represent the most important source of LSC allografts for treatment of bilateral LSCD when living relative donors are not available. To evaluate the suitability of aged cadaveric donors for LSCT, we compared three pools of LSC from donors of different ages (<60 years, 60–75 years, and >75 years). We evaluated graft quality in terms of percent of p63-positive (p63+) cells by immunofluorescence, colony forming efficiency, and mRNA and protein expression of p63, PAX6, Wnt7a, E-cadherin, and cytokeratin (CK) 12, CK3, and CK19. The results showed that LSC cultures from aged donors can express ≥3% of p63+ cells—considered as the minimum value for predicting favorable clinical outcomes after LSCT—suggesting that these cells could be a suitable source of LSC for transplantation. Our results also indicate the need to evaluate LSC graft quality criteria for each donor.