Diffusion through the ex vivo vitreal body - bovine, porcine, and ovine models are poor surrogates for the human vitreous
The human vitreous humour is a complex gel structure whose composition and physical properties can vary considerably from person to person and also change with age. To date, the viscoelastic properties of the human vitreous gel has not been thoroughly investigated and despite many years of intensive research, an ideal vitreous substitute remains a challenge. Understanding the physical structure and properties of the vitreous is of fundamental and therapeutic interest, providing a clear insight into diffusion and transport of administered ophthalmic drug molecules into the vitreous. A number of mammalian surrogates, mainly bovine, porcine and ovine vitreous humours have been greatly used in the literature as a means of studying ophthalmic drug transport and diffusion. In this study, the mechanical, physical and rheological properties of ovine, porcine, and bovine surrogates were investigated and compared to human vitreous. In addition, a bespoke Franz cell construct was used to compare the diffusion of a model drug (i.e. fluorescein) through vitreous samples. Despite the similarity in rheological properties between bovine, porcine and human vitreous samples (p > 0.05), diffusion of fluorescein through the different vitreous samples revealed great differences in values of steady-state flux and diffusion coefficient. In addition, a first-generation vitreous mimic, composed of 4.5 mg/mL hyaluronic acid with complex viscosity of 0.3 ± 0.01 Pa has been evaluated and was demonstrated to be a better mimic of the human vitreous than the mammalian samples investigated.