Experimental cell research

Retinal differentiation of human bone marrow-derived stem cells by co-culture with retinal pigment epithelium in vitro.

PMID 25724900


The goal of this study was to assess the in vitro differentiation capacity of human bone marrow-derived stem cells (hBMSCs) along retinal lineages. Mononuclear cells (MNC) were isolated from bone marrow (BM) and mobilized peripheral blood (mPB) using Ficoll-Paque density gradient centrifugation, and were sorted by magnetic-activated cell sorting (MACS) for specific stem cell subsets (CD34(+)CD38(+)/CD34(+)CD38(-)). These cells were then co-cultured on human retinal pigment epithelial cells (hRPE) for 7 days. The expression of stem cell, neural and retina-specific markers was examined by immunostaining, and the gene expression profiles were assessed after FACS separation of the co-cultured hBMSCs by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Furthermore, in vitro functionality of the differentiated cells was analyzed by quantifying phagocytosis of CY5-labeled photoreceptor outer segments (POS). After 7 days of co-culture, hBMSCs adopted an elongated epithelial-like morphology and expressed RPE-specific markers, such as RPE65 and bestrophin. In addition, these differentiated cells were able to phagocytose OS, one of the main characteristics of native RPE cells. Our data demonstrated that human CD34(+)CD38(-) hBMSC may differentiate towards an RPE-like cell type in vitro and could become a new type of autologous donor cell for regenerative therapy in retinal degenerative diseases.