Multipotent retinal progenitors express developmental markers, differentiate into retinal neurons, and preserve light-mediated behavior

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2004 Nov;45(11):4167-73. doi: 10.1167/iovs.04-0511.


Purpose: To use progenitor cells isolated from the neural retina for transplantation studies in mice with retinal degeneration.

Methods: Retinal progenitor cells from postnatal day 1 green fluorescent protein-transgenic mice were isolated and characterized. These cells can be expanded greatly in culture and express markers characteristic of neural progenitor cells and/or retinal development.

Results: After they were grafted to the degenerating retina of mature mice, a subset of the retinal progenitor cells developed into mature neurons, including presumptive photoreceptors expressing recoverin, rhodopsin, or cone opsin. In rho-/- hosts, there was rescue of cells in the outer nuclear layer (ONL), along with widespread integration of donor cells into the inner retina, and recipient mice showed improved light-mediated behavior compared with control animals.

Conclusions: These findings have implications for the treatment of retinal degeneration, in which neuronal replacement and photoreceptor rescue are major therapeutic goals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Separation
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Lipoproteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / cytology*
  • Photoreceptor Cells / metabolism
  • Recoverin
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retina / transplantation*
  • Retinal Degeneration / metabolism
  • Retinal Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Retinal Degeneration / surgery*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rhodopsin / metabolism
  • Rod Opsins / metabolism
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • Lipoproteins
  • Rcvrn protein, mouse
  • Rod Opsins
  • Recoverin
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Rhodopsin