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Stem Cell Reports. 2014 Jan 2;2(1):64-77. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2013.11.005. eCollection 2014 Jan 14.

Human RPE stem cells grown into polarized RPE monolayers on a polyester matrix are maintained after grafting into rabbit subretinal space.

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Department of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn, Bonn 53127, Germany.
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Bonn, Bonn 53127, Germany ; Mettapracharak Eye Institute, Raikhing, Nakhon Pathom 73210, Thailand.
Department of Ophthalmology, University of Muenster, Muenster 48149, Germany.
Neural Stem Cell Institute, Rensselaer, NY 12144, USA.


Transplantation of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is being developed as a cell-replacement therapy for age-related macular degeneration. Human embryonic stem cell (hESC) and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived RPE are currently translating toward clinic. We introduce the adult human RPE stem cell (hRPESC) as an alternative RPE source. Polarized monolayers of adult hRPESC-derived RPE grown on polyester (PET) membranes had near-native characteristics. Trephined pieces of RPE monolayers on PET were transplanted subretinally in the rabbit, a large-eyed animal model. After 4 days, retinal edema was observed above the implant, detected by spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and fundoscopy. At 1 week, retinal atrophy overlying the fetal or adult transplant was observed, remaining stable thereafter. Histology obtained 4 weeks after implantation confirmed a continuous polarized human RPE monolayer on PET. Taken together, the xeno-RPE survived with retained characteristics in the subretinal space. These experiments support that adult hRPESC-derived RPE are a potential source for transplantation therapies.

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