Limbal epithelial stem cells (LESC) are located at the junction between the avascular cornea and the vascularized conjunctiva. LESC preserve the integrity of the corneal epithelium. Although it has been clinically and experimentally proven that LESC destruction affects corneal avascularity, the mechanisms behind it remain unclear.
UV irradiation is a mechanism known to affect the LESC niche and is associated with pterygium. Our own data suggest that LESC are differentiated under UV exposure, leading to a pro-inflammatory and prolymphangiogenic microenvironment in the LESC niche. Therefore, we aim to 1. better understand the molecular mechanisms by which LESCs contribute to corneal avascularity and 2. find out if and how UV light associated with pterygium pathogenesis damages LESCs.