Defence: Øygunn Aass Utheim Øygunn Aass Utheim at Institute of Clinical Medicine will be defending the thesis "Inflammatory dry eye disease and ocular surface disease – novel aspects to pathogenesis and treatment for the degree of PhD".

Foto: Leyla Ezzouhri

Trial Lecture - time and place

See Trial Lecture.

Adjudication committee

  • 1st opponent: Assistant Professor Yoshinori Oie, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine
  • 2nd opponent: Professor Emeritus Haakon Breien Benestad, University of Oslo
  • Committee Chair: Adjunct Professor Trond Buanes, University of Oslo

Chair of the Defence

Professor II Morten Carstens Moe

Principal Supervisor

Professor II Tor Paaske Utheim,


Limbal stem cell deficiency results in failure of ocular surface regeneration and can be treated with transplantation of cultured human limbal epithelial cells (LEC). LECs are produced in centralized labs and thereafter shipped to eye clinics. The thesis brings together two areas of research, regenerative medicine to develop safe storage and transportation of LECs, and clinical research, to investigate pathogenetic mechanisms of the ocular surface in aniridia, a genetic ocular disorder often resulting in a sight-threatening complication with hallmark signs of limbal stem cell deficiency. First, we compared two serum-free storage media at ambient temperature and found that Minimal essential medium was optimal to maintain viability, phenotype and morphology for 7 days. We also simulated transport situations using an orbital shaker and found that LEC tolerated 36 hours of vigorous shaking, enough time to cover most areas in the world. Finally, we examined the ocular surface of 35 individuals with aniridia and compared them to a group of 21 healthy individuals. We found that 7 out of 29 pro-inflammatory cytokines were consistently elevated in the aniridia group, and that the level of elevated cytokines correlated with lack of tear film stability and Meibomian gland atrophy. In summary, our results may improve the safety of LEC transplantation by eliminating the risks of animal microbial contamination through serum-containing medium and give rise to a higher number of patients being treated due to the transport method presented. The thesis also adds to the knowledge of pathogenetic mechanisms of the ocular surface in aniridia by demonstrating a pro-inflammatory stage associated with Meibomian gland dysfunction in aniridia patients.

Additional information

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Publisert 14. nov. 2018 13:34 - Sist endret 23. nov. 2018 11:10