Clinical and cytological findings in limbal stem cell deficiency

Marta Sacchetti, Alessandro Lambiase, Magdalena Cortes, Roberto Sgrulletta, Sergio Bonini, Daniela Merlo, Stefano Bonini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate and relate the clinical (including corneal sensitivity and tear function) and cytological (presence of goblet cells and cytokeratin 3- and 19-positive cells) features of limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD). Methods: Twenty-nine patients (44 eyes) with a clinical diagnosis of LSCD participated in this study. Corneal signs (epithelial alterations, superficial neovascularisation and stromal scarring) and cytological findings (presence of goblet cells and cytokeratins 3 and 19) were evaluated and scored (from 0 to 3) from each of the five corneal sectors. Corneal sensitivity (Cochet-Bonnet aesthesiometer) and tear function (Schirmer test and BUT) were also assessed. Cytological scores were correlated statistically with both corneal signs and sensitivity values. Results: Cytokeratin 19-positive cells were found in 82% of corneal impression cytology samples, while goblet cells were identified in only 59% of these same samples. Cytokeratin 3-positive cells were present in 61% of LSCD eyes and in all unaffected eyes. Corneal sensitivity was significantly decreased in affected eyes compared with contralateral, healthy eyes (1.6±1.7 cm versus 5.7±0.3 cm). Tear function tests did not show significant changes. In LSCD eyes, goblet cells and cytokeratin 19-positive cells on the corneal surface were significantly correlated to corneal epithelial alterations and to corneal superficial neovascularisation (p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)870-876
Number of pages7
JournalGraefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2005


  • Corneal sensitivity
  • Cytokeratin 19
  • Cytokeratin 3
  • Impression cytology
  • Limbal stem cell deficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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