By desquamating single layers of corneal epithelial cells by digitonin, we attempted to observe the basal cell layer of corneal epithelium during wound healing by scanning electron microscopy. Central corneal deepithelisation (diameter 7.0 mm) was performed on rabbit eyes. Animals were killed following healing periods of up to 14 days. Half the eyes were treated with digitonin to expose the basal cell layer, and the other half were left untreated to preserve the superficial layer. In non-wounded controls, basal cells were observed as small and columnar-shaped cells. In experimental animals, on day 3 the superficial cells as well as the underlying basal cells were elongated and enlarged. On day 7, the basal cells became columnar in shape, but remained large. Both superficial cells and basal cells returned to normal on day 14. This technique allowed us to observe the morphological reconstruction process of basal cells by scanning electron microscopy.
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