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Exp Neurol. 2002 Sep;177(1):326-31.

In vitro isolation and expansion of human retinal progenitor cells.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA.


Human retinal development proceeds with temporal and spatial precision. Although differentiation starts around the beginning of the third month of gestation, the majority of cells in the outer neuroblastic layer of human neural retina are still proliferating, as evidenced by their Ki-67 immunoreactivity. In the present study, the proliferating human retinal progenitor cells (HRPCs) were isolated and expanded in culture. They were capable of dividing for multiple generations (with passage 8, the latest tested) and differentiating to several retinal cell phenotypes. These findings indicate that human retina at the 10th-13th week of gestation harbors progenitor cells that can be maintained and expanded in vitro for multiple generations. The availability of such cells may have important implications with respect to human degenerative retinal diseases, as these HRPCs have the potential to be used therapeutically to replace damaged retinal neurons.

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