Correlates of photoreceptor rescue by transplantation of human fetal RPE in the RCS rat

Caroline W. Little, Christopher Cox, Jeffrey Wyatt, Coca Del Cerro, Manuel Del Cerro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This study uses a water maze paradigm as a tool to assess posttransplantation changes in behavior associated with a visual stimulus. A set of dystrophic RCS rats received bilateral injections of freshly isolated human fetal RPE cells into the subretinal space of the superior equatorial hemisphere. Five age-matched control dystrophic RCS rats received subretinal injections of vehicle. All animals were immunosuppressed. At 2 months posttransplantation, each rat was tested in the water escape apparatus. The rat used a single light source, randomly located on the edge of the tank, to locate a submerged platform, placed directly in front of the light. Each rat was timed and videotaped during 10 consecutive trials. The swimming paths and times for all rats were recorded and statistically analyzed. Subsequent to the water escape trials, the eyes were embedded for histologic analysis which included quantitative assessment of photoreceptor cells in predefined retinal regions. The water escape data indicated the differences between the sham and experimental groups changed significantly over time (P = 0.0017). Over time, the transplanted animals learned to use light as a clue (P < 0.0001), whereas the sham animals did not (P = 0.73). Transplanted eyes had a significantly greater mean number of photoreceptors in the superior, grafted region than seen in the inferior region of the same eyes and compared with either region of sham-injected eyes (P = 0.0023). Statistical analyses demonstrated a functional advantage for visually guided behavior in RCS rats transplanted with human fetal RPE cells and a statistically significant PRC rescue effect at 2 months after transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Human RPE
  • Photoreceptor rescue
  • RCS rat
  • Transplantation
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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