Retinal ganglion cell (RGC) transplantation is a promising strategy to restore visual function resulting from irreversible RGC degeneration occurring in glaucoma or inherited optic neuropathies. We previously demonstrated FGF2 induced differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (ESC) to RGC lineage, capable of retinal ganglion cell layer (GCL) integration upon transplantation. Here, we evaluated possible improvement of visual function by transplantation of ES cell derived neural progenitors in RGC depleted glaucoma mice models. ESC derived neural progenitors (ES-NP) were transplanted into N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) injected, RGC-ablated mouse models and a pre-clinical glaucoma mouse model (DBA/2J) having sustained higher intra ocular pressure (IOP). Visual acuity and functional integration was evaluated by behavioral experiments and immunohistochemistry, respectively. GFP-expressing ES-NPs transplanted in NMDA-injected RGC-depleted mice differentiated into RGC lineage and possibly integrating into GCL. An improvement in visual acuity was observed after 2 months of transplantation, when compared to the pre-transplantation values. Expression of c-Fos in the transplanted cells, upon light induction, further suggests functional integration into the host retinal circuitry. However, the transplanted cells did not send axonal projections into optic nerve. Transplantation experiments in DBA/2J mouse showed no significant improvement in visual functions, possibly due to both host and transplanted retinal cell death which could be due to an inherent high IOP. We showed that, ES NPs transplanted into the retina of RGC-ablated mouse models could survive, differentiate to RGC lineage, and possibly integrate into GCL to improve visual function. However, for the survival of transplanted cells in glaucoma, strategies to control the IOP are warranted.
- Embryonic stem cell derived neural progenitors
- Functional integration
- Retinal ganglion cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience