Intravitreal injection is an important delivery route for studies involving the transplantation of various types of precursor cells to the retina; however, the effect on these cells of exposure to the vitreous microenvironment has not been specifically investigated. Here vitreous humor was evaluated for the potential to influence the proliferation of rat retinal precursor cells in vitro. Cells were isolated at embryonic day 19 and plated in standard proliferation medium in the presence or absence of fluid expressed from porcine vitreous humor. Cellular proliferation at different concentrations of vitreous fluid supplementation was quantified by using a (3)H-thymidine incorporation assay. Active components of vitreous fluid were partially characterized by gel filtration chromatography (GFC) and UV spectral analysis. The effect of each vitreous fraction on proliferation was determined as well. Results showed that addition of 20% vitreous fluid to primary rat retinal cultures significantly increased (3)H-thymidine incorporation compared with growth medium without vitreous supplementation. A vitreous fraction showing growth-promoting activity was localized to a molecular mass range <1000 Da, consistent with ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid was confirmed in vitreous fluid by UV spectral analysis. Growth-augmenting activity was present in higher molecular mass vitreous fractions, consistent with protein components. Albumin, the major protein in vitreous fluid, was found to augment proliferation. Because vitreous-associated augmentation of retinal precursor proliferation remains an epidermal growth factor-dependent phenomenon, the proliferative status of transplanted cells in the vitreous cavity is likely determined by a combination of factors.
2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.