Adult human retinal pigment epithelial cells capable of differentiating into neurons

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Mar 26;316(1):1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.01.172.


We investigated the ability of adult human RPE cells to differentiate into neurons. Two cell lines were evaluated. The cells were cultured in medium with 8% serum, transferred to a neural stem cell maintenance culture, and induced to differentiate with retinoic acid. The cells were immunocytochemically examined at each step. The cells showed epithelial-like morphology with 8% serum and all were immunoreactive for beta-III tubulin. After transfer to the stem cell maintenance culture, they changed morphologically and became immunoreactive for MAP5 and neurofilament200 after inducement with retinoic acid. The ratio of MAP5 positive cells was higher in the young adult RPE cell line. No GFAP or rod-opsin immunoreactive cells were observed. Adult human RPE cells even from old person are capable of differentiating into neurons, although the ratio of mature neurons was greater in the young than in the old cell line in this condition.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Pigment Epithelium of Eye / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology


  • Tretinoin