We have shown that the embryonic mammalian retina contains neural progenitors which display stem cell properties in vitro. Here we report the characterization of neural progenitors isolated from the adult mammalian eye. These quiescent cells, located in the pigmented ciliary bodies, proliferate in the presence of FGF2 and express the neuroectodermal marker nestin. The proliferating cells give rise to neural spheres and are multipotential; they express cell type-specific markers corresponding to neurons and glia. In addition, neural progenitors can generate secondary neural spheres, thus displaying potential to self-renew. The ciliary body-derived neural progenitors display retina-specific properties; the undifferentiated cells express Chx10, a retinal progenitor marker, and upon differentiation express markers corresponding to specific retinal cell types. Therefore, the pigmented ciliary body in the adult mammalian eye harbors neural progenitors that display stem cell properties and have the capacity to give rise to retinal neurons in vitro.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.