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A.R. Djalilian, Q.Y. Fan, R.B. Nussenblatt, J.C. Vogel, E.J. Holland, C.C. Chan; Can Bone Marrow Stem Cells Trans-differntiate into Ocular Surface Epithelial Cells? . Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2003;44(13):1352.
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Purpose: Recent studies have demonstrated a remarkable ability of adult bone marrow stem cells to trans-differentiate into a number of different tissues including neural, muscle, heart, liver and skin tissues. These studies have prompted us to examine the ocular surface epithelium after bone marrow transplantation to determine if donor derived cells can be detected. Methods: Eight week old female B6129SF2/J mice were irradiated with a total of 950 cGy and the next day were transplanted with 3 x 106 cells from the whole marrow of B6129S-Gtrosa26 (Rosa 26) male mice (transgenic mice expressing beta galactosidase in most adult tissues). The mice were sacrificed at various time points and the ocular surface was examined for the presence of donor derived cells using FISH (X and Y chromosomes), beta-galactosidase staining (X-gal and immunostaining), and PCR (Y chromosome). Results: Examination of the peripheral blood revealed successful engraftment by the donor marrow. The first time point examined was 2 weeks after bone marrow transplantation. Examination of the ocular surface epithelium was limited to 10 cross sections of the cornea and conjunctiva. Donor derived epithelial cells could not be conclusively identified. The next time point examined was 7 months after bone marrow transplantation the results of which are pending at this time. Conclusions: Plasticity of adult stem cells can have significant clinical implications for the repair of damaged organ, for instance, it may be possible in patients with severe ocular surface disease to regenerate the surface epithelium using autologous bone marrow stem cells. The preliminary short-term results of this study did not show any conclusive evidence for in vivo trans-differentiation of bone marrow stem cells into ocular surface epithelium in a murine model, however, long-term and more definitive results are still pending. An upcoming clinical study will also examine the same question by analyzing samples of the ocular surface epithelium from patients who have previously undergone allograft bone marrow transplantation.
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