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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(7), 1982;

An Insight into the Difficulties in the Discovery of Specific Biomarkers of Limbal Stem Cells

School of Medicine, Huaqiao University, Quanzhou 362021, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 June 2018 / Revised: 25 June 2018 / Accepted: 29 June 2018 / Published: 6 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1556 KB, uploaded 6 July 2018]   |  


Keeping the integrity and transparency of the cornea is the most important issue to ensure normal vision. There are more than 10 million patients going blind due to the cornea diseases worldwide. One of the effective ways to cure corneal diseases is corneal transplantation. Currently, donations are the main source of corneas for transplantation, but immune rejection and a shortage of donor corneas are still serious problems. Graft rejection could cause transplanted cornea opacity to fail. Therefore, bioengineer-based corneas become a new source for corneal transplantation. Limbal stem cells (LSCs) are located at the basal layer in the epithelial palisades of Vogt, which serve a homeostatic function for the cornea epithelium and repair the damaged cornea. LSC-based transplantation is one of the hot topics currently. Clinical data showed that the ratio of LSCs to total candidate cells for a transplantation has a significant impact on the effectiveness of the transplantation. It indicates that it is very important to accurately identify the LSCs. To date, several putative biomarkers of LSCs have been widely reported, whereas their specificity is controversial. As reported, the identification of LSCs is based on the characteristics of stem cells, such as a nuclear-to-cytoplasm ratio (N/C) ≥ 0.7, label-retaining, and side population (SP) phenotype. Here, we review recently published data to provide an insight into the circumstances in the study of LSC biomarkers. The particularities of limbus anatomy and histochemistry, the limits of the current technology level for LSC isolation, the heterogeneity of LSCs and the influence of enzyme digestion are discussed. Practical approaches are proposed in order to overcome the difficulties in basic and applied research for LSC-specific biomarkers. View Full-Text
Keywords: limbal stem cell (LSC); LSC niche; LSC biomarker; heterogeneity limbal stem cell (LSC); LSC niche; LSC biomarker; heterogeneity

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Guo, Z.H.; Zhang, W.; Jia, Y.Y.S.; Liu, Q.X.; Li, Z.F.; Lin, J.S. An Insight into the Difficulties in the Discovery of Specific Biomarkers of Limbal Stem Cells. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 1982.

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