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Samuel G. Jacobson, Rodrigo Matsui, Alexander Sumaroka, Artur V. Cideciyan; Retinal Structure Measurements as Inclusion Criteria for Stem Cell–Based Therapies of Retinal Degenerations. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(5):ORSFn1-ORSFn9. doi: 10.1167/iovs.15-17654.
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We reviewed and illustrated the most optimal retinal structural measurements to make in stem cell clinical trials.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) and autofluorescence (AF) imaging were used to evaluate patients with severe visual loss from nonsyndromic and syndromic retinitis pigmentosa (RP), ABCA4-Stargardt disease, and nonneovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Outer nuclear layer (ONL), rod outer segment (ROS) layer, inner retina, ganglion cell layer (GCL), and nerve fiber layer (NFL) thicknesses were quantified.
All patients had severely reduced visual acuities. Retinitis pigmentosa patients had limited visual fields; maculopathy patients had central scotomas with retained peripheral function. For the forms of RP illustrated, there was detectable albeit severely reduced ONL across the scanned retina, and normal or hyperthick GCL and NFL. Maculopathy patients had no measurable ONL centrally; it became detectable with eccentricity. Some maculopathy patients showed unexpected GCL losses. Autofluorescence imaging illustrated central losses of RPE integrity. A hypothetical scheme to relate patient data with different phases of retinal remodeling in animal models of retinal degeneration was presented.
Stem cell science is advancing, but it is not too early to open the discussion of criteria for patient selection and monitoring. Available clinical tools, such as OCT and AF imaging, can provide inclusion/exclusion criteria and robust objective outcomes. Accepting that early trials may not lead to miraculous cures, we should be prepared to know why—scientifically and clinically—so we can improve subsequent trials. We also must determine if retinal remodeling is an impediment to efficacy.
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