Fibroblasts invade the primary corneal stroma of the 6-day-old chick embryo eye. The way in which these cells build the secondary stroma has been studied by microscope examination of the stroma during the subsequent 8 Days. Eyes were embedded in low viscosity nitrocellulose, and 30-micrometer tangential sections of cornea were cut and stained with azan (giving blue collagen and red cells). These sections were sufficiently thick to include enough cells and collagen for stromal organization to be visible under Nomarski optics. Three days after invasion, the fibroblasts extend along collagen bundles in the posterior region of the stroma; surprisingly, fibroblasts near the epithelium are more rounded. The collagen itself is organized in orthogonal bundles rather than in sheets. Measurements show that posterior bundles increase in size with time while anterior stroma si similar in diameter to primary stroma. These observations confirm that the epithelium continues to deposit primary stroma up to at least the 14th day. They show, moreover, that fibroblasts deposit collagen fibrils on extant stroma and that the farther a bundle is from the epithelium, and hence the longer the period since it was first laid down, the wider it is likely to be. Analysis of the results and existing data on hyaluronic acid levels in the stroma suggests that Bowman's membrane, the region of anterior stroma that remains uncolonized by cells, is, during this period at least, primary stroma laid down but as yet unswollen.

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