Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a common cause of central visual loss in the elderly. Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cell loss occurs early in the course of AMD and RPE cell transplantation holds promise to slow disease progression. We report that subretinal transplantation of RPE stem cell (RPESC)-derived RPE cells (RPESC-RPE) preserved vision in a rat model of RPE cell dysfunction. Importantly, the stage of differentiation that RPESC-RPE acquired prior to transplantation influenced the efficacy of vision rescue. Whereas cells at all stages of differentiation tested rescued photoreceptor layer morphology, an intermediate stage of RPESC-RPE differentiation obtained after 4 weeks of culture was more consistent at vision rescue than progeny that were differentiated for 2 weeks or 8 weeks of culture. Our results indicate that the developmental stage of RPESC-RPE significantly influences the efficacy of RPE cell replacement, which affects the therapeutic application of these cells for AMD.
Keywords: AMD; RPE; RPE transplant efficacy; developmental stage; differentiation stage; macular degeneration; retinal pigment epithelium; stem cell; transplant; vision rescue.
Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.