Biocompatibility of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Retinal Progenitor Cell Grafts in Immunocompromised Rats

Cell Transplant. 2022 Jan-Dec:31:9636897221104451. doi: 10.1177/09636897221104451.


Loss of photoreceptor cells is a primary feature of inherited retinal degenerative disorders including age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. To restore vision in affected patients, photoreceptor cell replacement will be required. The ideal donor cells for this application are induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) because they can be derived from and transplanted into the same patient obviating the need for long-term immunosuppression. A major limitation for retinal cell replacement therapy is donor cell loss associated with simple methods of cell delivery such as subretinal injections of bolus cell suspensions. Transplantation with supportive biomaterials can help maintain cellular integrity, increase cell survival, and encourage proper cellular alignment and improve integration with the host retina. Using a pig model of retinal degeneration, we recently demonstrated that polycaprolactone (PCL) scaffolds fabricated with two photon lithography have excellent local and systemic tolerability. In this study, we describe rapid photopolymerization-mediated production of PCL-based bioabsorbable scaffolds, a technique for loading iPSC-derived retinal progenitor cells onto the scaffold, methods of surgical transplantation in an immunocompromised rat model and tolerability of the subretinal grafts at 1, 3, and 6 months of follow-up (n = 150). We observed no local or systemic toxicity, nor did we observe any tumor formation despite extensive clinical evaluation, clinical chemistry, hematology, gross tissue examination and detailed histopathology. Demonstrating the local and systemic compatibility of biodegradable scaffolds carrying human iPSC-derived retinal progenitor cells is an important step toward clinical safety trials of this approach in humans.

Keywords: autologous cell replacement; human retinal engineering; iPSC-derived retinal cell graft; subretinal transplantation; systemic toxicity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biocompatible Materials / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells* / transplantation
  • Rats
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retinal Degeneration* / pathology
  • Retinal Degeneration* / therapy
  • Retinitis Pigmentosa* / therapy
  • Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Swine


  • Biocompatible Materials