Author(s): Bhatia B, Singhal S, Lawrence JM, Khaw PT, Limb GA
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Abstract Much interest has been generated by the identification of neural stem cells in the human neural retina and ciliary body. However, it is not clear whether stem cells identified in these ocular compartments are of the same origin or whether they ontogenically derive from different cell populations. This study examined the in situ anatomical distribution of these cells within the neural retina and ciliary body, as well as their ability to proliferate in response to EGF. Human retinae and ciliary body were examined for co-expression of Nestin, cellular retinaldehyde binding (CRALBP) or Vimentin, and the stem cell markers SOX2, CHX10, NOTCH1 and SHH. Retinal explants were cultured with epidermal growth factor (EGF) to assess retinal cell proliferation. Intense Nestin and CRALBP staining was observed in the neural retinal margin, where cells formed bundles of spindle cells (resembling glial cells) that lacked lamination and co-stained for SOX2, CHX10 and SHH. This staining differentiated the neural retina from the ciliary epithelium, which expressed SOX2, CHX10 and NOTCH1 but not Nestin or CRALBP. Nestin and CRALBP expression decreased towards the posterior retina, where it anatomically identified a population of MÃ¼ller glia. All Vimentin positive MÃ¼ller glia co-stained for SOX2, but only few Vimentin positive cells expressed Nestin and SOX2. Cells of the retinal margin and the inner nuclear layer (INL), where the soma of MÃ¼ller glia predominate, re-entered the cell cycle upon retinal explant culture with EGF. Lack of lamination and abundance of MÃ¼ller glia expressing stem cell markers in the marginal region of the adult human retina resemble the ciliary marginal zone (CMZ) of fish and amphibians. The findings that cells in this CM-like zone, as well in the inner nuclear layer proliferate in response to EGF suggest that the adult human retina has regenerative potential. Identification of factors that may promote retinal regeneration in the adult human eye would provide efficient treatments for retinal degenerative conditions for which treatments are not yet available.
This article was published in Exp Eye Res
and referenced in Anatomy & Physiology: Current Research