Biomechanical strengthening of the human cornea induced by nanoplatform-based transepithelial riboflavin/UV-A corneal cross-linking

Cristina Labate, Marco Lombardo, Giuseppe Lombardo, Maria Penelope De Santo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE. The purpose of this study was to investigate the biomechanical stiffening effect induced by nanoplatform-based transepithelial riboflavin/UV-A cross-linking protocol using atomic force microscopy (AFM). METHODS. Twelve eye bank donor human sclerocorneal tissues were investigated using a commercial atomic force microscope operated in force spectroscopy mode. Four specimens underwent transepithelial corneal cross-linking using a hypotonic solution of 0.1% riboflavin with biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles of 2-hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin plus enhancers (trometamol and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) and UV-A irradiation with a 10 mW/cm2 device for 9 minutes. After treatment, the corneal epithelium was removed using the Amoils brush, and the Young’s modulus of the most anterior stroma was quantified as a function of scan rate by AFM. The results were compared with those collected from four specimens that underwent conventional riboflavin/UV-A corneal cross-linking and four untreated specimens. RESULTS. The average Young’s modulus of the most anterior stroma after the nanoplatformbased transepithelial and conventional riboflavin/UV-A corneal cross-linking treatments was 2.5 times (P < 0.001) and 1.7 times (P < 0.001) greater than untreated controls respectively. The anterior stromal stiffness was significantly different between the two corneal crosslinking procedures (P < 0.001). The indentation depth decreased after corneal cross-linking treatments, ranging from an average of 2.4 ± 0.3 μm in untreated samples to an average of 1.2 ± 0.1 μm and 1.8 ± 0.1 μm after nanoplatform-based transepithelial and conventional crosslinking, respectively. CONCLUSIONS. The present nanotechnology-based transepithelial riboflavin/UV-A corneal crosslinking was effective to improve the biomechanical strength of the most anterior stroma of the human cornea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-184
Number of pages6
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Corneal biomechanical response
  • Corneal cross-linking
  • Young modulus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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