Subretinal transplantation of human central nervous system stem cells stimulates controlled proliferation of endogenous retinal pigment epithelium

Trevor J. McGill, Linda Osborne, Bin Lu, Jonathan Stoddard, Stephen Huhn, Ann Tsukamoto, Alexandra Capela

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: The loss of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells is a feature common to agerelated macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa (RP) and multiple early phase clinical trials are underway testing the safety of RPE cell replacement for these diseases. We examined whether transplantation of human neural stem cells into the subretinal space could enhance the endogenous proliferative capacity of the host RPE cell to regenerate. Methods: Human central nervous system stem cells (HuCNS-SC) were isolated from enzymatically treated brain tissue using flow cytometry. Pigmented dystrophic Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and S334ter-4 rats treated with oral bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) received a unilateral subretinal injection of 1.0 X 105 HuCNS-SC cells at either postnatal day 21 or 60. Animals were sacrificed at 90, 120, and 150 days of age. Eyes were fixed processed for cryostat sectioning. Sections were immunostained with Stem101, Ku80, RPE65, OTX1/2, BrdU, and CRALBP antibodies and analyzed via confocal microscopy. Results: RCS rats that received transplantation of HuCNS-SC had significantly more (approximately 3-fold) Ki67-positive or BrdU-labelled host RPE cells adjacent to the HuCNS-SC graft than controls. Significantly increased host RPE cell proliferation as a result of HuCNS-SC transplantation also was confirmed in S334ter-line 4 transgenic rats with higher proliferation observed in animals with longer posttransplantation periods. Conclusions: These results suggest that controlled proliferation of endogenous RPE by HuCNS-SC may provide another mechanism by which RPE cell diseases could be treated. Translational Relevance: Engaging the capacity for endogenous RPE cell regeneration in atrophic diseases may be a novel therapeutic strategy for degenerative diseases of the RPE and retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalTranslational Vision Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Age related macular degeneration
  • Cell transplantation
  • Neural stem cells
  • Proliferation
  • RPE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Ophthalmology


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