Adipose-derived stem cells integrate into trabecular meshwork with glaucoma treatment potential

FASEB J. 2020 May;34(5):7160-7177. doi: 10.1096/fj.201902326R. Epub 2020 Apr 7.


The trabecular meshwork (TM) is an ocular tissue that maintains intraocular pressure (IOP) within a physiologic range. Glaucoma patients have reduced TM cellularity and, frequently, elevated IOP. To establish a stem cell-based approach to restoring TM function and normalizing IOP, human adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) were induced to differentiate to TM cells in vitro. These ADSC-TM cells displayed a TM cell-like genotypic profile, became phagocytic, and responded to dexamethasone stimulation, characteristic of TM cells. After transplantation into naive mouse eyes, ADSCs and ADSC-TM cells integrated into the TM tissue, expressed TM cell markers, and maintained normal IOP, outflow facility, and extracellular matrix. Cell migration and affinity results indicated that the chemokine pair CXCR4/SDF1 may play an important role in ADSC-TM cell homing. Our study demonstrates the possibility of applying autologous or allogeneic ADSCs and ADSC-TM cells as a potential treatment to restore TM structure and function in glaucoma.

Keywords: adipose stem cells; differentiation; homing; integration; trabecular meshwork.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Adult Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Adult Stem Cells / transplantation*
  • Animals
  • Anterior Chamber / cytology
  • Anterior Chamber / immunology
  • Apoptosis
  • Aqueous Humor / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Movement
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotaxis
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glaucoma / pathology
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology
  • Glaucoma / therapy*
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Intraocular Pressure / physiology
  • Mice
  • Phagocytosis
  • Regenerative Medicine
  • Trabecular Meshwork / cytology*
  • Trabecular Meshwork / physiology


  • Dexamethasone