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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2010 Apr;51(4):2208-18. doi: 10.1167/iovs.09-4447. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

Embryonic retinal cells and support to mature retinal neurons.

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  • 1Integrated Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


Purpose. There is a paucity of neuron replacement studies for retinal ganglion cells. Given the complex phenotype of these neurons, replacement of ganglion cells may be impossible. However, transplanted embryonic cells could provide factors that promote the survival of these neurons. The authors sought to determine whether transplanted embryonic retinal cells from various stages of development influence the survival of mature ganglion cells Methods. Acutely dissociated retinal cells, obtained from chick embryos, were transplanted into the vitreous chamber of posthatch chicken eyes after the ganglion cells were selectively damaged. Eight days after transplantation, numbers of ganglion cells were determined Results. Embryonic retinal cells from embryonic day (E)7, E10, and E11 promoted the survival of ganglion cells, whereas cells from earlier or later stages of development or from other tissue sources did not. The environment provided by the posthatch eye did not support the proliferation of the embryo-derived cells, unlike the environment provided by culture conditions. Furthermore, cells that migrated into the retina failed to express neuronal or glial markers; those that remained in the vitreous formed aggregates of neuronal and glial cells Conclusions. The environment provided within the mature retina does not support the differentiation and proliferation of retinal progenitors. Furthermore, embryo-derived cells likely produce secreted factors that promote the survival of damaged ganglion cells. Therefore, embryonic retinal cells could be applied as a cell-based survival therapy to treat neurodegenerative diseases of the retina.

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