Cell therapy, to replace lost tissue, is a promising approach for the treatment of various neurodegenerative diseases. Many studies suggest, however, that the percentage of transplanted cells that survive and undergo functional integration remains low as a result of immune rejection, suboptimal precursor cell type, trauma during cell transplantation, toxic compounds released by dying tissues or nutritional deficiencies. We recently developed an ex vivo system to facilitate identification of factors contributing to the death of transplanted neuronal (photoreceptor) cells and compounds that block these toxic effects. In this system, photoreceptor precursor cells (PPCs) are sandwiched between a neurosensory retinal explant and retinal pigment epithelium derived from human embryonic stem cells. Explant medium was collected to identify toxic components and PPC survival was assessed by flow cytometry. We also assessed the potential for AAGP™, a cryopreservative molecule, to improve PPC survival. We identified elevated prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) in the explant medium and demonstrated that AAGP™ reduced PGE2 levels by 2.6-fold. A pro-inflammatory stress assay suggested that this may result from AAGP™ inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase-2 (COX-2) expression. We confirmed that PGE2 reduced the viability of cultured PPCs by 44% and found that the survival rate of PPCs pretreated with AAGP™ was 2.8-fold higher than in untreated PPCs. These data suggest that PGE2 release from necrotic tissue may be one factor that reduces the survival of transplanted precursor cells and that the pro-survival molecule AAGP™ may improve long-term transplanted cell viability. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keywords: cell therapy; ex vivo system; functional integration; neurodegeneration; neurosensory precursor cells; pro-survival compound.
Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.