Purpose: The traditional medium for storing corneas in European Eye Banks is Gibco’s MEM (Eagle’s) with Earle’s salts and Hepes containing 2% fetal calf serum, glutamine and antimycotics. Although serum-free MegaCell™ MEM has been reported to be more suitable for this purpose, it contains components of animal origin that potentially pose health risks to corneal recipients. The possibility of removing or replacing these components has therefore been investigated. Methods: A MegaCell basal medium (DME) and a formulation of this (MegaCell DCS), which contains no components of animal origin, have been prepared. The viability of the endothelial, epithelial and stromal cells of corneas held in these media has been assessed, their stress levels monitored and water content determined. Results: The endothelial cell count and morphology of corneas held in MegaCell DME and DCS for 30 days remained little changed. Their epithelial and stromal cells also retained their ability to proliferate in culture. Neither DME nor DCS prevented corneal swelling but the lack of endogenous MMP-2 activation indicated that the corneas were not subject to metabolic stress. Conclusion: MegaCell DCS is an animal product-free medium formulated for corneal storage. The quality of corneas held in this medium is similar to those held in MegaCell MEM.

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