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Stem Cells Int. 2012;2012:939801. doi: 10.1155/2012/939801. Epub 2012 Apr 9.

Photoreceptor Differentiation following Transplantation of Allogeneic Retinal Progenitor Cells to the Dystrophic Rhodopsin Pro347Leu Transgenic Pig.

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Gavin Herbert Eye Institute, Ophthalmology Research, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-4390, USA.



Transplantation of stem, progenitor, or precursor cells has resulted in photoreceptor replacement and evidence of functional efficacy in rodent models of retinal degeneration. Ongoing work has been directed toward the replication of these results in a large animal model, namely, the pig.


Retinal progenitor cells were derived from the neural retina of GFP-transgenic pigs and transplanted to the subretinal space of rhodopsin Pro347Leu-transgenic allorecipients, in the early stage of the degeneration and the absence of immune suppression.


Results confirm the survival of allogeneic porcine RPCs without immune suppression in the setting of photoreceptor dystrophy. The expression of multiple photoreceptor markers by grafted cells included the rod outer segment-specific marker ROM-1. Further evidence of photoreceptor differentiation included the presence of numerous photoreceptor rosettes within GFP-positive grafts, indicative of the development of cellular polarity and self-assembly into rudiments of outer retinal tissue.


Together, these data support the tolerance of RPCs as allografts and demonstrate the high level of rod photoreceptor development that can be obtained from cultured RPCs following transplantation. Strategies for further progress in this area, together with possible functional implications, are discussed.

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