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J Neurosci Methods. 2010 Jun 30;190(1):63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2010.04.025. Epub 2010 May 4.

Three-dimensional early retinal progenitor 3D tissue constructs derived from human embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, Reeve-Irvine Research Center, Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, University of California at Irvine, Irvine, CA, USA.



To develop three-dimensional (3D) constructs of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) and early retina progenitor cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs).


3D tissue constructs were developed by culturing hESC-derived neural retinal progenitors in a matrix on top of hESC-derived RPE cells in a cell culture insert. An osmolarity gradient maintained the nutrition of the 3D cell constructs. Cross-sections through hESC-derived tissue constructs were characterized by immunohistochemistry for various transcription factors and cell markers.


hESC-derived tissue constructs expressed transcription factors characteristic of retinal development, such as pax6, Otx2, Chx10, retinal RAX; Brn3b (necessary for differentiation of retinal ganglion cells); and crx and nrl (role in photoreceptor development). Many cells expressed neuronal markers including nestin, beta-tubulin and microtubule-associated proteins.


This study shows for the first time that 3D early retinal progenitor tissue constructs can be derived from hESCs.

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