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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2008 Aug;49(8):3449-56. doi: 10.1167/iovs.08-1770. Epub 2008 Apr 11.

Human Müller stem cell (MIO-M1) transplantation in a rat model of glaucoma: survival, differentiation, and integration.

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Cambridge Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



Stem cell transplantation is a potential treatment strategy for neurodegenerative diseases such as glaucoma. The Müller stem cell line MIO-M1 can be differentiated to produce retinal neurons and glia. The survival, migration, differentiation, and integration of MIO-M1 cells were investigated in a rat model of glaucoma. The effect of modulating the retinal environment with either chondroitinase ABC or erythropoietin was also studied.


Intraocular pressure was chronically increased unilaterally by using a laser glaucoma model in adult rats. EGFP-transduced MIO-M1 cells were transplanted into the vitreous or subretinal space of glaucomatous or untreated eyes. Oral immune suppressants were administered to reduce xenograft rejection. Survival, migration, differentiation, and integration of grafted cells were assessed by immunohistochemistry.


Transplanted cells survived for 2 to 3 weeks in vivo, although microglia/macrophage infiltration and a reduction in graft survival were seen by 4 weeks. Grafted cells displayed a migratory phenotype with an elongated bipolar shape often oriented toward the retina. Transplanted cells expressed markers such as PSA-NCAM, GFAP, and beta-III-tubulin. The host retina was resistant to MIO-M1 migration, but modification of the local environment with erythropoietin or chondroitinase ABC facilitated retinal infiltration by MIO-M1 cells.


The results demonstrate that differentiating MIO-M1 cells within the glaucomatous eye produced cells that expressed neuronal and glial cell markers. The retina was relatively resistant to transplant integration, and long-term xenograft survival was limited. However, local modulation of the retinal environment enhanced the integration of MIO-M1 cells into the glaucomatous retina.

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