How does the cornea maintain its rapid pace of cell turnover—and how does the body regenerate it after injury? A research team led by Pantelis Rompolas, Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Olivia Farrelly, a Ph.D. candidate in the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group, uncovered exciting new clues by identifying separate stem cell pools for maintenance and injury repair.

The investigators used two-photon live imaging in mice to explore the cell dynamics of the corneal limbus, an important adult stem cell niche that maintains the cornea. They find that stem cells display different roles and fates depending on location: cells in the inner limbus primarily maintain the cornea during normal conditions while cells of the outer limbus step in to help regenerate the cornea after injury.

These findings reconcile prior observations in the field regarding how the limbus contributes to eye health and inform ongoing attempts to develop cell therapies for ocular diseases. You can read more about this research in Cell Stem Cell.