Transport and Preservation Comparison of Preloaded and Prestripped-Only DMEK Grafts

Pere Catala, Wessel Vermeulen, Timo Rademakers, Antoon van den Bogaerdt, Pieter Jan Kruijt, Rudy M. M. A. Nuijts, Vanessa L. S. LaPointe, Mor M. Dickman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Web of Science)


Purpose: This study compares the effect of the transport of conventionally prestripped Descemet membrane endothelial keratoplasty (DMEK) tissue with the DMEK revolutionary advanced Preloadable Injection Device (RAPID) preloaded transport system from Geuder AG (Heidelberg, Germany). Endothelial cell loss, tissue integrity, endothelial cell phenotype, and viability were assessed and compared. Methods: Twelve DMEK grafts were prestripped by the cornea bank and transported using the following 2 conditions: conventional flask (n = 6) or a preloaded transport cartridge (DMEK RAPID, n = 6). After transport, tissues were analyzed for cell density; denuded areas; immunolocalization of corneal endothelial markers, such as ZO-1, CD166, and Na+/K(+)ATPase; histology analysis; and cell viability staining with Hoechst, calcein AM, and ethidium homodimer. Results: Endothelial cell loss (10.35% vs. 9.15%) did not differ between transport conditions. Histological analysis confirmed the integrity of the Descemet membrane and endothelial cell layer with both transport conditions. Similarly, the corneal endothelial cell mosaic was conserved in both conditions. The ZO-1 tight junctions confirmed the integrity of the confluent corneal endothelial cell monolayer. CD166 and Na+/K(+)ATPase detection with immunofluorescence was also comparable. A similar percentage of dead cells was reported in both conditions (18.1% vs. 16.73%). Moreover, the surface covered with calcein-positive cells (59.02% vs. 61.95%) did not differ between transport conditions. Conclusions: Our results suggest that DMEK grafts can be prestripped or preloaded into a novel transport cartridge and shipped to the clinic with comparable endothelial cell loss, phenotypical marker expression, and viability to the conventional prestripped donor tissue.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1407-1414
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • DMEK
  • preloaded tissue
  • eye banking

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