Fluorescein as a marker for subretinal transplantation of human fetal neural retina

David A. DiLoreto, Taraprasad Das, Constancia Del Cerro, Christopher Cox, Manuel Del Cerro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose. To investigate the effect of fluorescein on human fetal neural retina and adult rat retina; and to use fluorescein to map the area of subretinal transplantation. Methods. In vitro: Human fetal neural retina (8 to 14 weeks gestational age) was incubated in 0.03% fluorescein in Dulbecco's Modified Eagles Medium (DMEM) or DMEM alone for 30 min. Viability was determined using the trypan blue exclusion test, and results were compared. Effects of the fluorescein on cell morphology were assessed by observation of primary cultures for 1 week. In vivo: Human fetal neural retina was mechanically dissociated in 0.03% fluorescein in DMEM and transplanted to the subretinal space of immunosuppressed rats. To control for the effect of fluorescein on the grafted tissue, transplants were also performed in DMEM only. After transplantation, indirect ophthalmoscopy and true color fundus photography were performed to document the area covered by the transplant. One month after transplantation, the appearance of grafts exposed to fluorescein was compared to those that were not, at the light microscopic level. Results. In vitro: Exposure of human fetal neural retina to fluorescein had no effect on viability. Similarly, in tissue culture, the fluorescein-exposed cells exhibited the same phenotype as the controls. In vivo: Immediately after transplantation the graft site was clearly outlined within the subretinal area and fluoresced intensely. There were no traces of the dye 2 h after transplantation. Cells that were transplanted with fluorescein survived transplantation, and one month after transplantation could be seen forming subretinal grafts. No differences were noted between these and control grafts. Conclusions. Fluorescein is an effective dye for immediate and transient localization of trans-scleral transplants to the subretinal space. It allows mapping of the area covered by the injection without interfering with the viability and differentiation of the transplanted cells. It allows unequivocal photo- and video-documentation in both the albino and pigmented fundi. It is already FDA approved for many other extra- and intraocular studies and now has directly been shown to be non-toxic to both human fetal neural retina and adult rodent retina.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1159-1165
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Eye Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 25 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Fetal cells
  • Fluorescein
  • Human
  • Retina
  • Transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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