Transplantation of cells from eye-like structures differentiated from embryonic stem cells in vitro and in vivo regeneration of retinal ganglion-like cells
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- Aoki, H., Hara, A., Niwa, M. et al. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol (2008) 246: 255. doi:10.1007/s00417-007-0710-6
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An embryonic stem (ES) cell-derived eye-like structure, made up of neural retinal lineage cells, retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, and lens cells was constructed in our laboratory. We have shown that cells from these eye-like structures can be integrated into the developing optic vesicle of chicks. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the cells from these eye-like structures can differentiate into retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) when transplanted into the vitreous of an injured adult mouse retina.
ES cells were induced to differentiate into eye-like structures in vitro for 6 or 11 days. Recipient mouse eyes were injected with NMDA to injure the RGCs prior to the transplantation. Sham-treated eyes received the same amount of carrier vehicle. Cells were extracted from the eye-like structures and transplanted into the vitreous of damaged and control eyes. The host eyes were analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively by immunohistochemistry 10 days or 8 weeks after transplantation.
Cells from the ES cell-derived eye-like structures were integrated into the RGC layer, and differentiated into neurons when transplanted into control (non-NMDA-treated) adult eyes. However, they rarely expressed RGC markers. When they were transplanted into NMDA-treated eyes, the cells spread on the surface of the retina and covered a relatively large area of the host RGC layer that had been injured by the NMDA. The cells from the ES cell-derived eye cells frequently differentiated into cells expressing RGC-specific markers, and formed a new RGC layer. In addition, a small number of these ES cell-derived cells were observed to extend axon-like processes toward the optic disc of the host. However, visually evoked responses could not be recorded from the visual cortex.
These findings suggest that ES cell-derived eye-like structures contain cells that can differentiate into RG-like cells and regenerate a new RGC layer. These cells also appeared to be integrated into the retina and extend axon-like processes toward the optic nerve head.