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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Dec 17;53(13):8265-79. doi: 10.1167/iovs.12-10334.

Crystallin-β-b2-overexpressing NPCs support the survival of injured retinal ganglion cells and photoreceptors in rats.

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Institute for Experimental Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, Westfalian-Wilhelms-University Münster, Münster, Germany.



Crystallin β-b2 (crybb2) is known to support the regeneration of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons in culture. We investigated whether neuronal progenitor cells (NPCs) overexpressing crybb2 (crybb2-NPC) affect secondary retinal degeneration due to optic nerve crush in vivo.


NPCS were produced by dissociation and propagation of rat embryonic neural tube and eye primordial cells at embryonic days 13.5 and 15. Retinal degeneration was induced by injured optic nerve crush (BY suture, 20 seconds). Several groups were built: crybb2-NPC were injected into the vitreous body, while the Controls were comprised of recombinant crybb2-injected and PBS-injected groups. The eyes, in particular the retina, were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting for different antigens at 2 and 4 weeks after surgery.


At 2 and 4 weeks post surgery, crybb2-NPC resided within the vitreoretinal compartment, and were persistently nestin-positive throughout the experimental period. The cells stained positive for various neurotrophins and acted as "living" cell factories to support the survival of injured RGCs. The crybb2-NPC migrated throughout the eye structures and sometimes became integrated within the tissue. Most of the ocular cells responded to the appearance of crybb2-NPC with marked changes of certain proteins, including Iba-1 (microglia), vimentin (glial cells), and rhodopsin (photoreceptors). Photoreceptors also displayed a better survival after crybb2-NPC injection compared to control groups.


Crybb2-NPC exert beneficial effects on the vitreoretinal compartment, which suggests that modified crybb2-NPC could be used in a novel strategy for the treatment of degenerative vitreoretinal diseases. However, future studies must determine the safety of in vivo administration of crybb2-NPC.

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