Molecular vision

Immunopanning purification and long-term culture of human retinal ganglion cells.

PMID 21203402


To establish a robust method to isolate primary retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) from human fetal retina for long-term culture while maintaining neuronal morphology and marker protein expression. A total of six human retinas were obtained from aborted fetuses at 10 to 12 weeks of gestation with informed consent from mothers. RGCs were isolated and purified by a modified two-step immunopanning procedure. The cells were maintained in a serum-free defined medium supplemented with brain-derived neurotrophic factor, ciliary neutrophic factor, and forskolin. The viable RGCs and the extent of neurite outgrowth were examined by calcein-acetoxymethylester assay. Expression of RGC markers was studied by immunocytochemistry. Primary RGCs from human fetal retinas were isolated and maintained in vitro for one month with substantial neurite elongation. In cell culture, almost 70% of the isolated cells attached, spread, and displayed numerous dendrites. They were immunoreactive to RGC-specific markers (Thy-1, TUJ-1, and Brn3a) and negative for glial fibrillary acidic protein and amacrine cells marker HPC-1. Human RGCs were successfully isolated and maintained in long-term culture. This can serve as an ideal model for biologic, toxicological, and genomic assays of human RGCs in vitro.