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Protection of Photoreceptor Cells From Phototoxicity by Transplanted Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells Expressing Different Neurotrophic Factors

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Transplantation of cells or tissues and the intravitreal injection of neurotrophic factors are two methods that have been used to treat retinal diseases. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of combining both methods: the transplantation of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells expressing different neurotrophic factors. The neutrophic factors were Axokine, brain derived-neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). The enhanced green fluorescence protein (eGFP) gene was used as a reporter gene. These genes were transduced into RPE cells by lipofection, selected by antibiotics, and transplanted into the subretinal space of 108 rats. The rats were examined at 1 week and 3 months after the transplantation to determine whether the transduced cells were present, were expressing the protein, and were able to protect photoreceptors against phototoxicity. The survival of the transplanted cells was monitored by the presence of eGFP. The degree of protection was determined by the thickness of the outer nuclear layer. Our results showed that the degree of photoreceptor protection was different for the different types of neurotrophic factors at 1 week. After 3 months, the number of surviving transplanted cell was markedly reduced, and protection was observed only with the BDNF-transduced RPE cells. A significant degree of rescue was also observed by BDNF-transduced RPE cells in the nontransplanted area of the retina at both the early and late times. Lymphocytic infiltration was not detected in the vitreous, retina, and choroid at any time. We conclude that the transplantation of BDNF-transduced RPE cells can reduce the photoreceptor damage induced by phototoxicity in the transplanted area and weakly in the nontransplanted area.

Keywords: Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Phototoxicity; Plasmid vector; Retinal pigment epithelium; Transplantation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Division of Clinical Cell Therapy, School of Medicine, Tohoku University, 1-1 Seiryomachi, Aobaku, Sendai, Miyagi, 980-8574 Japan 2: Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, School of Medicine, Tohoku University, 1-1 Seiryomachi, Aobaku, Sendai, Miyagi, 980-8574 Japan

Publication date: October 1, 2005

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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