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Jean M. Lawrence, Yves Sauvé, David J. Keegan, Peter J. Coffey, Leonard Hetherington, Sergej Girman, Simon J. O. Whiteley, Anthony S. L. Kwan, Timothy Pheby, Raymond D. Lund; Schwann Cell Grafting into the Retina of the Dystrophic RCS Rat Limits Functional Deterioration. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2000;41(2):518-528.
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purpose. To examine whether congenic Schwann cells grafted into the subretinal
space of dystrophic Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats can prevent
photoreceptor loss and maintain visual function.
methods. Purified neonatal Schwann cells derived from congenic rats were grafted
into the subretinal space of 3- to 4-week-old dystrophic RCS rats.
Graft placement was confirmed using Schwann cells labeled in vitro with
the fluorescent dye Hoechst 33342 or in grafted eyes processed for
electron microscopy (48-hour to 1-month survival). At longer intervals,
up to 9 months after surgery, animals were examined for photoreceptor
survival; preservation of a visual reflex, head-tracking to moving
stripes; and preservation of visual receptive fields associated with
the region of graft placement.
results. One week after the graft was performed, Schwann cells had integrated
into the subretinal space with little evidence of a reactive response.
When screened for head-tracking to moving stripes, Schwann
cell–grafted animals performed better than sham-treated or control
dystrophic animals. Threshold sensitivity measurements and visual field
assessment made by recording from the superior colliculus also showed a
significant level of preserved function compared with control animals.
Functional rescue was correlated with photoreceptor survival and could
be observed for at least 9 months after grafting.
conclusions. Schwann cells injected into the subretinal space limit functional
deterioration and prolong photoreceptor survival. It is suggested that
they act by local release of growth factors that either support
photoreceptors directly and/or stimulate phagocytosis in RPE
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