Cellular response in rabbit eyes after human fetal RPE cell transplantation

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Abstract 

· Background: This study was carried out to study inflammatory and proliferative cellular responses in the rabbit eye after subretinal transplantation of human fetal retinal pigment epithelial (HFRPE) cells. · Methods: 5-Bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeled HFRPE cells were injected subretinally into rabbit eyes at three different concentrations. Macrophage, glial, and proliferative responses of the eye tissues were studied by immunohistochemistry and light microscopy at different times after the surgery. · Results: In transplanted eyes, the HFRPE cells were distributed irregularly either as multilayers or monolayers. In eyes receiving high-density cell suspensions, retinal breaks were seen. No retinal breaks were noted in the eyes receiving low-density HFRPE cell suspensions. The highest intensity of inflammatory response was seen at 4–14 days after surgery, with greater expression in transplanted eyes receiving high-density cell suspensions. The host cellular response was characterized initially by local infiltration of the retina and subretinal space by macrophages and glial cells. After day 14, a decline in the number of donor cells was noted in all eyes. At later stages the host cellular response was characterized mainly by local choroidal thickening and infiltration by inflammatory cells. Proliferative response was expressed mainly by retinal cells. · Conclusion: Initial inflammatory and proliferative responses after the xenogenic human to rabbit HFRPE cell transplantation were expressed by retinal cells with later involvement of the choroid. Our results showed a decline in the number of donor cells starting from day 14 after the transplantation. This may suggest a possibility of rejection. The initial quantity of injected cells may be critical for the intensity of the immune and inflammatory responses.

Received: 11 February 1998 Revised version received: 2 June 1998 Accepted: 23 June 1998