Monocyte infiltration and proliferation reestablish myeloid cell homeostasis in the mouse retina following retinal pigment epithelial cell injury

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 16;7(1):8433. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-08702-7.


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading contributor of vision loss, currently lacks comprehensive treatment. While AMD histopathology involves retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) injury associated with immune cell infiltration, the nature of immune cell responses to RPE injury remains undefined. We induced RPE injury pharmacologically and genetically in transgenic mouse models in which microglia and systemic monocytes were separately tagged, enabling a spatial and temporal dissection of the relative contributions of microglia vs. monocytes to post-injury changes. We found that myeloid cell responses to RPE injury occur in stages: (1) an early mobilization of endogenous microglia from the inner retina to the RPE layer, followed by (2) subsequent monocyte infiltration from the retinal vasculature into the inner retina that replenishes the local myeloid cell population in a CCR2-regulated manner. These altered distributions of myeloid cells post-injury were long-lived, with recruited monocytes acquiring the distribution, markers, and morphologies of neighboring endogenous microglia in a durable manner. These findings indicate the role played by infiltrating monocytes in maintaining myeloid cell homeostasis in the retina following AMD-relevant RPE injury and provide a foundation for understanding and therapeutically modulating immune aspects in retinal disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation*
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelial Cells / pathology
  • Homeostasis
  • Iodates / toxicity
  • Macular Degeneration / metabolism
  • Macular Degeneration / pathology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Monocytes / metabolism*
  • Myeloid Cells / metabolism*
  • Receptors, CCR2 / genetics
  • Receptors, CCR2 / metabolism
  • Retina / metabolism*
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / drug effects
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / metabolism*
  • Retinal Pigment Epithelium / pathology


  • Ccr2 protein, mouse
  • Iodates
  • Receptors, CCR2
  • sodium iodate