Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells: Development In Vivo and Derivation from Human Embryonic Stem Cells In Vitro for Treatment of Age-Related Macular Degeneration

  • Dennis O. CleggEmail author
  • David Buchholz
  • Sherry Hikita
  • Teisha Rowland
  • Qirui Hu
  • Lincoln V. Johnson
Part of the Advances in Biomedical Research book series (ABIR, volume 1)


The retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) plays a key role in supporting photoreceptor survival and function, and RPE loss and dysfunction in age-related macular degeneration (AMD) leads to photoreceptor death. AMD is one of the leading causes of blindness, yet there is neither a cure nor a way to prevent it. In this chapter, we discuss recent progress in the study of AMD, summarize what is known about RPE development, and review recent progress in deriving RPE from human embryonic stem cells (hESC). The RPE is derived from the optic vesicle, which in turn is derived from the eye field of the anterior neural plate. Multiple extracellular signaling factors and transcriptional regulators have been identified that are crucial to RPE development. Knowledge of these events is guiding efforts to understand how hESC differentiate into RPE cells that might be used therapeutically for AMD. RPE derived from hESC are remarkably similar to fetal RPE with respect to gene expression and cellular function. Future research on these cells will lead to a better understanding of RPE development and the advancement of cellular therapy for AMD.


Age-related macular degeneration human embryonic stem cells ocular development retinal cells retinal pigment epithelium 



Age-related macular degeneration


Human embryonic stem cells


RPE-like cells derived from human embryonic stem cells


Pigment epithelium-derived factor


Retinal pigment epithelium


Vascular endothelial growth factor


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis O. Clegg
    • 1
    Email author
  • David Buchholz
    • 1
  • Sherry Hikita
    • 1
  • Teisha Rowland
    • 1
  • Qirui Hu
    • 1
  • Lincoln V. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering, Neuroscience Research InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA

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