Autologous cultivated limbal stem cell transplantation after failed previous limbal graft



To describe a case of unilateral limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD) with previously failed autologous graft, resolved by ocular surface reconstruction using cultured autologous limbal stem cells from the contralateral eye.

Case report

A 35-year-old patient presented to our clinic with LSCD due to a unilateral alkali burn. The patient had received a previous limbal graft from the contralateral eye that had failed to impede corneal conjunctivalization. We decided to repeat limbal stem cell transplantation using an ex vivo cultivation procedure to reduce the risk of tissue harvesting on the healthy fellow eye. A small limbal biopsy (1.5 × 1.5 mm) near the previously excised limbus was performed. Stem cells were then isolated and cultured on fibrin and a 3T3 feeder cell layer using a standard protocol. Four months later, the cultivated cells on fibrin were grafted after pannus removal. In the subsequent months, the ocular surface stabilized and inflammation decreased. Two years later, the patient underwent large tectonic lamellar keratoplasty for severe corneal thinning involving the entire cornea, and 6 months later central penetrating keratoplasty and extracapsular cataract extraction with intraocular lens implantation and pupilloplasty was performed. Following reconstruction, the patient showed improved best-corrected vision from count fingers to 20/200 due to amblyopia, and the ocular surface was stable with a transparent corneal graft.


Ex vivo limbal stem cell transplantation is a valid technique for treating LSCD and can be utilized for treating patients who have had previous failed limbal grafts.

Eur J Ophthalmol 2017; 27(5): e137 - e139

Article Type: CASE REPORT



Karl A. Knutsson, Stanislav Matuska, Paolo Rama

Article History


Financial support: No financial support was received for this submission.
Conflict of interest: None of the authors has conflict of interest with this submission.

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  • Department of Ophthalmology, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan - Italy
  • Cornea and Ocular Surface Unit, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan - Italy

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