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Transplantation of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells as a thin subretinal layer ameliorates retinal degeneration in a rat model of retinal dystrophy *

Vision incapacitation and blindness associated with retinal degeneration affect millions of people worldwide. Cell based therapy and specifically transplantation of human adult bone marrow-derived stem cells (hBM-MSCs) present possible treatment strategy. Subretinal transplantation of human or rat BM-MSCs was shown previously to improve retinal function in Royal College Surgeons (RCS) rats. In those studies cells were transplanted via a transscleral-transchoroidal approach, creating a localized subretinal bleb. Limited number of cells could be injected and photoreceptor rescue was restricted to areas in proximity to the injection site. Here we describe a new surgical method for subretinal transplantation that facilitates uniform distribution of transplanted cells as a thin layer along most of the subretinal space. We assessed the therapeutic effect of hBM-MSCs on RCS rats when transplanted either subretinally or intravitreally. We also examined whether a second transplantation can prolong the therapeutic effect. A cell suspension of 2.5 × 106 cells in 5 μl was injected subretinally or intravitreally in RCS rats at 28 days postnatal. In the subretinal group, hBM-MSCs were transplanted posterior to the limbus in the superotemporal part of the eye through a longitudinal triangular scleral tunnel reaching the choroid. In the intravitreal group, the cells were injected into the superotemporal part of the vitreous cavity. In cross sections of subretinally transplanted eyes, removed 2 h following transplantation, hBM-MSCs were distributed as a near-homogenous thin layer along most of the subretinal space. In some animals the cells were also detected in the choroid. In the intravitreal injection group, hBM-MSCs were clustered in the vitreous cavity. Transplanted cells could be detected up to 2 weeks after transplantation but not at later time points. Retinal function and structure were assessed by electroretinogram (ERG) and histology analysis, respectively. Six weeks post transplantation, the mean maximal scotopic ERG b-wave amplitude response recorded in RCS control eyes was 1.2 μV. By contrast, in transplanted eyes mean responses of 56.4 μV and 66.2 μV were recorded in the intravitreally and subretinally transplanted eyes, respectively. In the subretinal group, retinal function was significantly higher in transplanted compared with control eyes up to 20 weeks following transplantation. By contrast, in the intravitreal group, rescue of retinal function persisted only up to 12 weeks following transplantation. Histological analysis revealed that 8 weeks following subretinal transplantation, the retinas of control eyes were dystrophic, with outer nuclear layer (ONL) containing a single cell layer. An extensive photoreceptor rescue was demonstrated in transplanted eyes at this time point, with 3–4 cell layers in the ONL along the entire retina. A second subretinal transplantation at 70 days postnatal did not enhance or prolong the therapeutic effect of hBM-MSCs. No immunosuppressants were used and long-term safety analysis demonstrated no gross or microscopic adverse effects. Taken together our findings suggest that transplantation of hBM-MSCs as a thin subretinal layer enhances the therapeutic effect and the safety of cell transplantation.

* Legal Disclaimer: Chelation and Hyperbaric Therapy, Stem Cell Therapy, and other treatments and modalities mentioned or referred to in this web site are medical techniques that may or may not be considered “mainstream”. As with any medical treatment, results will vary among individuals, and there is no implication or guarantee that you will heal or achieve the same outcome as patients herein.

As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 11-03-2017
Authors: Adi Tzameret, Ifat Sher, Michael Belkin, Avraham J.Treves, Amilia Meir, Arnon Nagler, Hani Levkovitch-Verbin, Iris Barshack, Mordechai Rosner, Ygal Rotenstreich
Source: Experimental Eye Research, Volume 118, January 2014, Pages 135-144