The Future of Stem Cells and Their Derivates in the Treatment of Glaucoma. A Critical Point of View

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Oct 14;22(20):11077. doi: 10.3390/ijms222011077.


This review focuses on the clinical translation of preclinical studies, especially those that have used stem cells in the treatment of glaucoma, with an emphasis on optic nerve regeneration. The studies referred to in the review aim to treat optic nerve atrophy, while cell therapies targeting other sites in the eye, such as the trabecular meshwork, have not been addressed. Such complex and varied pathophysiological mechanisms that lead to glaucoma may explain the fact that although stem cells have a high capacity of neuronal regeneration, the treatments performed did not have the expected results and the promise offered by animal studies was not achieved. By analyzing the facts associated with failure, important lessons are to be learned: the type of stem cells that are used, the route of administration, the selection of patients eligible for these treatments, additional therapies that support stem cells transplantation and their mode of action, methods of avoiding the host's immune response. Many of these problems could be solved using exosomes (EV), but also miRNA, which allows more targeted approaches with minimal side effects.

Keywords: exosomes; glaucoma; miRNA; neurodegeneration; neuronal regeneration; stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Exosomes
  • Glaucoma / etiology*
  • Glaucoma / physiopathology
  • Glaucoma / therapy*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Optic Nerve / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / pathology*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Stem Cells*


  • MicroRNAs