Conversion of mammalian Müller glial cells into a neuronal lineage by in vitro aggregate-culture

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2006 Dec 15;351(2):514-20. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2006.10.072. Epub 2006 Oct 24.


Mammalian Müller glial cells are major glial cells in the retina. Here we report that these glial cells can be redirected towards a neuronal lineage by an aggregate-culture in vitro. Rat and macaque Müller glial cells did not express neuronal markers except after transfer to adhesive conditions. Furthermore, this expression could only take place in the presence of platelet-derived growth factor and valproic acid. We compared a normal monolayer-culture and an aggregate-culture, and rat Müller glial cells could only differentiate into neurons under non-adhesive conditions. However, Müller glial cells did not express the photoreceptor markers in vitro. After transplantation into the subretinal space, a retina-specific niche, rat Müller glial cells expressed the photoreceptor-specific marker, opsin (RET-P1). We demonstrate the potential of mammalian Müller glial cells as a source of photoreceptors, which may possibly contribute to the treatment of degenerative retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Macaca
  • Neuroglia / cytology*
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Neuroglia / transplantation
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Vertebrate / cytology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Rod Opsins / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Rod Opsins