Protective effects of human iPS-derived retinal pigmented epithelial cells on retinal degenerative disease.

Research paper by Deliang D Zhu, Mengyuan M Xie, Fabian F Gademann, Jixing J Cao, Peiyuan P Wang, Yonglong Y Guo, Lan L Zhang, Ting T Su, Jun J Zhang, Jiansu J Chen

Indexed on: 10 Mar '20Published on: 07 Mar '20Published in: Stem cell research & therapy


Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an inherited retinal disease characterized by progressive loss of photoreceptor cells. This study aim at exploring the effect of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC-RPE) on the retina of retinal degeneration 10 (rd10) mice, which are characterized with progressive photoreceptor death. We generated RPE from hiPSCs by sequential supplementation with retinal-inducing factors and RPE specification signaling factors. The three-dimensional (3D) spheroid culture method was used to obtain optimal injectable hiPSC-RPE cells. Subretinal space transplantation was conducted to deliver hiPSC-RPE cells into the retina of rd10 mice. Neurotrophic factor secretion from transplanted hiPSC-RPE cells was detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Immunostaining, Western blotting, electroretinography (ERG), and visual behavior testing were performed to determine the effects of hiPSC-RPE on the retinal visual function in rd10 mice. Our data demonstrated that hiPSC-RPE cells exhibited classic RPE properties and phenotype after the sequential RPE induction from hiPSCs. hiPSC-RPE cells co-cultured with mouse retinal explants or retinal ganglion cells 5 (RGC5) exhibited decreased apoptosis. The viability and functional properties of hiPSC-RPE cells were enhanced by 3D spheroid culture. Transplanted hiPSC-derived RPE cells were identified by immunostaining with human nuclear antigen staining in the retina of rd10 14 days after subretinal space injection. The pigment epithelium-derived factor level was increased significantly. The expression of CD68, microglial activation marker, reduced after transplantation. The light avoidance behavior and ERG visual function in rd10 mice improved by the transplantation of hiPSC-RPE cells. Our findings suggest that injectable hiPSC-RPE cells after 3D spheroid culture can rescue the structure and function of photoreceptors by sub-retinal transplantation, which lay the foundation for future clinical cell therapy to treat RP and other retinal degeneration diseases.