Date: 26 Nov 2008

Preservation of photoreceptors in dystrophic RCS rats following allo- and xenotransplantation of IPE cells

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Abstract

Purpose

To examine whether iris pigment epithelial (IPE) cells transplanted into the subretinal space of Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats have the ability to rescue photoreceptors.

Methods

Rat IPE (rIPE) or human IPE (hIPE) cells were transplanted subretinally in 23-day-old RCS rats. Sham injection and transplantation of ARPE-19 cells served as controls. After 12 weeks, eyes were evaluated for photoreceptor survival by morphometric analysis and electron microscopy.

Results

Morphometric analysis showed photoreceptor rescue in all transplanted and sham-injected animals (number of photoreceptors/300 µm retina±sd: rIPE 41.67 ± 28; hIPE 29.50 ± 16; ARPE-19 36.12 ± 21; sham 16.56 ± 6) compared to age-matched, control rats (number of photoreceptors/300 µm retina±sd: 9.71 ± 4). Photoreceptor rescue was prominent in IPE cell-transplanted rats and was significantly greater than sham-injected eyes (p = 0.02 for rIPE and p = 0.04 for hIPE).

Conclusion

Since IPE cells transplanted into the subretinal space have the ability to rescue photoreceptors from degeneration in the RCS rat without any harmful effects, IPE cells may represent an ideal cell to genetically modify and thus carry essential genetic information for the repair of defects in the subretinal space.