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Exp Eye Res. 2006 Feb;82(2):265-74. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Embryonic stem cells that differentiate into RPE cell precursors in vitro develop into RPE cell monolayers in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Tissue and Organ Development, Regeneration and Advanced Medical Science, Gifu University Graduate School of Medicine, Gifu 501-1194, Japan.


A culture system to generate eye-like structures consisting of lens, neural retina, and retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) cells from undifferentiated embryonic stem cells has been established. Precursors of RPE cells that differentiated in the cultures were responsive to Wnt2b signaling and identified retrospectively to form secondary colonies consisting of only RPE-like cells in eye-like structures. These transplanted eye-like structures were capable of populating the developing chick eye as neuronal retina and RPE cells. The outgrowth of a single cell layer of mature RPE cells from the grafted eye-like structures confirmed the existence of precursors for RPE cells. These results suggest that the eye-like structures resulted from the normal developmental pathway responsible for generating eyes in vivo. If a functional effect of these cells can be established, such eye-like structures may be potentially used to establish therapy models for various eye diseases.

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