Lymphatic research is an explosive field of new discovery in recent years. Lymphatic dysfunction has been found in a wide array of disorders which include but are not limited to cancers and tumors, inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases, dry eye, chemical burn, and tissue or organ transplant rejection, etc. The cornea provides an optimal site for lymphatic research due to its accessible location, transparent nature, and lymphatic-free but inducible features. Because there are no pre-existing vessels to consider in this unique tissue, it is exceptionally straightforward and accurate to assess lymphatic events (from formation to maturation and regression) in the cornea. Since lymphatic vessels are not easily visible as blood vessels, previous studies using the cornea have relied on traditional immunohistochemistry assays with dead tissues. Currently, there are no means of direct and harmless visualization of lymphatic vessels within live cornea.
Investigators at University of California at Berkeley have addressed this challenge by developing the first live imaging of corneal lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic specific dye is injected into the subconjunctival space to visualize lymphatic vessels at various stages in the cornea under a fluorescence stereo, confocal, or two-photon microscope. Moreover, lymphatic vessels can be visualized in different colors to produce two, three, and four-dimensional images or live videos at a molecular level. The investigators have demonstrated a proof of principle in live mouse cornea. The technique allows time course tracking of dynamic lymphatic processes within the same tissue or subject over a short or long period of time, and can be ideally used to assess the progression of disease development and the effect of drug treatment. Live imaging of corneal lymphatic vessels allows visualization of lymphatic vessels in their natural morphology, state, and interactions with the local environment. This noninvasive method of live imaging of corneal lymphatic vessels is readily applicable to patient examination and the lymphatic dye of dextran is bio-degradable and harmless to human health.
|United States Of America||Issued Patent||9,724,035||08/08/2017||2012-012|