Photoreceptor transplants increase host cone survival in the retinal degeneration (rd) mouse

Ophthalmic Res. 1997;29(5):290-7. doi: 10.1159/000268027.


Retinal transplants offer a potentially interesting approach to treating human retinal degenerations, but so far little quantitative data are available on possible beneficial effects. We isolated photoreceptor layers from normal-sighted mice and grafted them into the subretinal space of retinal degeneration (rd) mice lacking rod photoreceptors. At 2 weeks after surgery, the numbers of residual host cone photoreceptors outside the graft zone were quantified following specific labelling. Examination of operated retinas revealed highly significantly greater numbers of surviving cones (mean of 38% more at 2 weeks) within the central field compared to sham-operated paired control retinas (p < 0.01). These are the first quantified data indicating a trophic effect of transplanted photoreceptors upon host cone cells. As cone cells are responsible for high acuity and colour vision, such data could have important implications not only for eventual therapeutic approaches to human retinal degenerations but also to understanding underlying interactions between retinal photoreceptors.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Survival
  • Color Perception
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Degeneration / pathology
  • Retinal Degeneration / physiopathology
  • Retinal Degeneration / surgery*
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / physiopathology
  • Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells / transplantation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Visual Acuity
  • Visual Fields