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PLoS One. 2013 Aug 5;8(8):e69938. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069938. Print 2013.

Intravitreal transplantation of human umbilical cord blood stem cells protects rats from traumatic optic neuropathy.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China.



To treat traumatic optic neuropathy (TON) with transplantation of human umbilical cord blood stem cells (hUCBSC) and explore how transplanted stem cells participate in the neuron repairing process.


A total of 195 Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to three groups: sham-surgery, optic nerve injury, and stem cell transplant group. Optic nerve injury was established in rats by directly clamping the optic nerve for 30 seconds. hUCBSC was microinjected into the vitreous cavity of injured rats. Optic nerve function was evaluated by flash visual evoked potentials (F-VEP). Apoptosis in retina tissues was detected by TUNEL staining. GRP78 and CHOP gene expression was measured by RT-PCR.


After injury, transplantation of hUCBSC significantly blunted a reduction in optic nerve function indicated by smaller decreases in amplitude and smaller increases in peak latency of F-VEP waveform compared to the injury alone group. Also, significant more in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) count and less in RGC apoptosis were detected after transplantation compared to injured rats. The protective effect correlated with upregulated GRP78 and downregulated CHOP mRNA expression.


Intravitreal transplantation of hUCBSCs significantly blunted a reduction in optic nerve function through increasing RGC survival and decreasing retinal cell apoptosis. The protective role of transplantation was associated with upregulation of GRP78 expression and downregulation of CHOP expression in retinal cells.

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