The structural and optical properties of type III human collagen biosynthetic corneal substitutes

Sally Hayes, Phillip Lewis, M Mirazul Islam, James Doutch, Thomas Sorensen, Tomas White, May Griffith, Keith M Meek

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The structural and optical properties of clinically biocompatible, cell-free hydrogels comprised of synthetically cross-linked and moulded recombinant human collagen type III (RHCIII) with and without the incorporation of 2-methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine (MPC) were assessed using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), X-ray scattering, spectroscopy and refractometry. These findings were examined alongside similarly obtained data from 21 human donor corneas. TEM demonstrated the presence of loosely bundled aggregates of fine collagen filaments within both RHCIII and RHCIII-MPC implants, which X-ray scattering showed to lack D-banding and be preferentially aligned in a uniaxial orientation throughout. This arrangement differs from the predominantly biaxial alignment of collagen fibrils that exists in the human cornea. By virtue of their high water content (90%), very fine collagen filaments (2-9 nm) and lack of cells, the collagen hydrogels were found to transmit almost all incident light in the visible spectrum. They also transmitted a large proportion of UV light compared to the cornea which acts as an effective UV filter. Patients implanted with these hydrogels should be cautious about UV exposure prior to regrowth of the epithelium and in-growth of corneal cells into the implants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Biomaterialia
Pages (from-to)121-30
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Collagen Type III/chemistry
  • Cornea/chemistry
  • Humans
  • Hydrogel, Polyethylene Glycol Dimethacrylate/chemistry
  • Methacrylates/chemistry
  • Optical Phenomena
  • Phosphorylcholine/analogs & derivatives
  • Prostheses and Implants
  • Refractometry
  • Scattering, Small Angle
  • X-Ray Diffraction


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