Purpose: To assess enzymatic digestion rate after Riboflavin (RF) and Water-Soluble-Taurine (WST11) based corneal cross-linking (CXL), with or without the addition of high molecular weight dextran (RF-D and WST-D).
Methods: Eighty-eight paired porcine corneas were cross-linked by either RF (n = 11) or RF-D (n = 11) and ultraviolet light (UVA), or WST11 (n = 11) or WST-D (n = 11) and near-infrared (NIR) light, or used as paired control (n = 44). Corneal buttons of treated and paired control eyes were placed in a 0.3% collagenase solution. Time to full digestion and remaining dry sample weight after six hours were compared.
Results: A strong treatment effect was seen with all four formulations, as all controls had been fully digested whilst all treated samples were still visible at the experiment's endpoint. After irradiation, central corneal thickness was significantly higher in samples treated with hypo-osmolar formulations, compared to dextran enriched formulations (P < 0.001). Dry sample weight after digestion was nonsignificantly different between corneas treated by the four different formulations (P = 0.102). Average dry sample weight was 1.68 ± 0.6 (n = 10), 2.19 ± 0.50 (n = 8), 1.48 ± 0.76 (n = 11), and 1.54 ± 0.60 (n = 9) mg, for RF, RF-D, WST11, and WST-D treated samples, respectively. Enzymatic resistance was similar for RF and WST based CXL (P = 0.61) and was not affected by the addition of dextran (P = 0.221).
Conclusions: Both RF and WST11 based CXL significantly increases resistance to enzymatic digestion, with similar effect for hypo-osmolar and hyperosmolar (dextran enriched) formulations.
Translational Relevance: Our findings indicate these formulations are interchangeable, paving the way for the development of novel PACK-CXL protocols for thin corneas and deep-seated infections.