The biocompatibility of porous silicon in tissues of the eye

Suet P. Low, Nicolas H. Voelcker, Leigh T. Canham, Keryn A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Citations (Scopus)


In this report, we explore the biocompatibility of thermally-oxidised, aminosilanised porous silicon membranes and their potential to support human ocular cells in vitro and in vivo, in the rat eye. A colorimetric assay for silicic acid showed that membranes with pore sizes of 40-60 nm slowly dissolved, but the material could be maintained in tissue culture medium in vitro for at least two weeks without visible degradation. When implanted under the rat conjunctiva, the material did not erode the underlying or overlying tissue. The implant underwent slow dissolution, but remained visible at the operating microscope for over 8 weeks. End-stage histology indicated the presence of a thin fibrous capsule surrounding the implant, but little evidence of any local accumulation of acute inflammatory cells or vascularization. Human lens epithelial cells and primary human corneal explants adhered to the porous silicon membranes, where they remained viable and underwent division. Primary corneal epithelial cells supported on membranes were labelled with a cell tracker dye and implanted under the rat conjunctiva. Seven days later, labelled cells had moved from the membrane into the ocular tissue spaces. A porous silicon membrane may have value as a biomaterial that can support the delivery of cells to the ocular surface and improve existing therapeutic options in patients with corneal epithelial stem cell dysfunction and ocular surface disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2873-2880
Number of pages8
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished or Issued - May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodegradation
  • Bioprosthesis
  • Cornea
  • Ophthalmology
  • Silicon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Biophysics
  • Biomaterials
  • Mechanics of Materials

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