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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Nov;45(11):4167-73.

Multipotent retinal progenitors express developmental markers, differentiate into retinal neurons, and preserve light-mediated behavior.

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  • 1Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



To use progenitor cells isolated from the neural retina for transplantation studies in mice with retinal degeneration.


Retinal progenitor cells from postnatal day 1 green fluorescent protein-transgenic mice were isolated and characterized. These cells can be expanded greatly in culture and express markers characteristic of neural progenitor cells and/or retinal development.


After they were grafted to the degenerating retina of mature mice, a subset of the retinal progenitor cells developed into mature neurons, including presumptive photoreceptors expressing recoverin, rhodopsin, or cone opsin. In rho-/- hosts, there was rescue of cells in the outer nuclear layer (ONL), along with widespread integration of donor cells into the inner retina, and recipient mice showed improved light-mediated behavior compared with control animals.


These findings have implications for the treatment of retinal degeneration, in which neuronal replacement and photoreceptor rescue are major therapeutic goals.

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