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Caihui Jiang, Xin Wang, Maonian Zhang; Transplantation of human retinal progenitor cells into the subretinal space of mini pigs. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2013;54(15):4696.
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Photoreceptor loss due to retinal degenerative diseases is the leading cause of incurable blindness around world. Cell replacement has been suggested as a potential therapeutic approach for treatment of retinal degenerative diseases, such as retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration. In this study, we assessed the ability of hRPCs to engraft, survive and differentiate into retinal cells in the mini pig retinas.
hRPCs were isolated from 12-16 wks gestational age retina and expanded in vitro. Cells were characterized by immunochemistry for expression of retinal progenitor markers. PKH26-labeled hRPCs in HBSS were transplanted into the subretinal space of mini pigs. Mini pigs in control group received subretinal injection of HBSS. Cyclosporine A was administered in the drinking water until they were killed. Fundus examination and optical coherence tomography (OCT) were performed at various time after transplantation. Mini pigs were sacrificed 4 to 8 weeks after transplantation and eyes were collected for immunohistochemistry study.
At both 4 and 8 weeks after transplantation, the injected hRPCs were able to engraft, survive and migrate within the mini pig retina. Furthermore, most of the integrated cells resided in the outer nuclear layers of the pigs. Immunohistochemistry analysis revealed that some transplanted cells co-labeled with human mitochondria and retinal photoreceptor markers rhodopsin and recoverin.
hRPCs transplanted into the subretinal space of mini pigs can migrate, integrate and differentiate into photoreceptors. These results suggest the potential of hRPC transplantation to treat retinal degenerative diseases.
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