Characteristics of progenitor cells derived from adult ciliary body in mouse, rat, and human eyes

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2007 Apr;48(4):1674-82. doi: 10.1167/iovs.06-1034.


Purpose: To isolate and characterize progenitor cells derived from adult mammalian ciliary body.

Methods: The authors isolated progenitor cells from the ciliary body of adult mice, rats, and human cadaver eyes and determined quantitative growth characteristics of groups of progenitor cells called neurosphere (NS) cells, including individual cell diameter, NS diameter, percentage of NS-forming cells, and cell number per eye in mouse, rat, and human eyes. The immunolabeling and ultrastructure of NS cells were investigated by confocal and transmission electron microscopy.

Results: Average diameters of individual cells and neurospheres after 1 week in culture were similar in mice, rats, and humans (cell diameters: 22 +/- 1.1, 21 +/- 0.3, 25 +/- 0.4 mum; NS diameters: 139 +/- 22, 137 +/- 9, 141 +/- 11 mum, respectively). Mean numbers of cells per NS were estimated to be 1183 in mice, 5360 in rats, and 685 in humans. Molecules that were identified by immunolabeling in NS cells included nestin, Chx-10, vimentin, GFAP, and Pax-6. Thy-1 was expressed in some NS cells. Ultrastructurally, NS cells displayed abundant rough endoplasmic reticulum and many cellular processes but no characteristics of mature retinal neurons or glia.

Conclusions: Progenitor cells from adult mammalian ciliary body have significant, but limited, proliferation potential and express markers characteristic of other progenitor cells and seen during early retinal development. The ciliary body could be a source of cells for transplantation in experimental rodent eyes and for autotransplantation in human eyes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Separation
  • Ciliary Body / cytology*
  • Ciliary Body / physiology
  • Eye Proteins / metabolism
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nestin
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Thy-1 Antigens / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Vimentin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Eye Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • NES protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nes protein, mouse
  • Nes protein, rat
  • Nestin
  • PAX6 Transcription Factor
  • PAX6 protein, human
  • Paired Box Transcription Factors
  • Pax6 protein, mouse
  • Pax6 protein, rat
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Thy-1 Antigens
  • Transcription Factors
  • VSX2 protein, human
  • Vimentin
  • Vsx2 protein, mouse