In vitro reconstructed 3D corneal tissue models for ocular toxicology and ophthalmic drug development

Yulia Kaluzhny & Mitchell Klausner

Testing of all manufactured products and their ingredients for eye irritation is a regulatory requirement. In the last two decades, the development of alternatives to the in vivo Draize eye irritation test method has substantially advanced due to the improvements in primary cell isolation, cell culture techniques, and media, which have led to improved in vitro corneal tissue models and test methods. Most in vitro models for ocular toxicology attempt to reproduce the corneal epithelial tissue which consists of 4–5 layers of non-keratinized corneal epithelial cells that form tight junctions, thereby limiting the penetration of chemicals, xenobiotics, and pharmaceuticals. Also, significant efforts have been directed toward the development of more complex three dimensional (3D) equivalents to study wound healing, drug permeation, and bioavailability. This review focuses on in vitro reconstructed 3D corneal tissue models and their utilization in ocular toxicology as well as their application to pharmacology and ophthalmic research. Current human 3D corneal epithelial cell culture models have replaced in vivo animal eye irritation tests for many applications, and substantial validation efforts are in progress to verify and approve alternative eye irritation tests for widespread use. The validation of drug absorption models and further development of models and test methods for many ophthalmic and ocular disease applications is required.


Review article, eye structure, ocular toxicology, ex vivo tests, corneal models, EpiOcular, EpiCorneal, SkinEthic HCE, MCTT-HCE, Cornea model24, Vitrigel HCE, 2d monolayer assays, MTT, LDH, WST, ET-50, TEER, lucifer yellow leakage, drug absorption, dry eye, bacterial infection, viral infection, phototoxicity

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