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Investigative ophthalmology & visual science

Vision Recovery and Connectivity by Fetal Retinal Sheet Transplantation in an Immunodeficient Retinal Degenerate Rat Model.


PMID 28129425

Abstract

To characterize a recently developed model, the retinal degenerate immunodeficient S334ter line-3 rat (SD-Foxn1 Tg(S334ter)3Lav) (RD nude rat), and to test whether transplanted rat fetal retinal sheets can elicit lost responses to light. National Institutes of Health nude rats (SD-Foxn1 Tg) with normal retina were compared to RD nude rats with and without transplant for morphology and visual function. Retinal sheets from transgenic rats expressing human placental alkaline phosphatase (hPAP) were transplanted into the subretinal space of RD nude rats between postnatal day (P) 26 and P38. Transplant morphology was examined in vivo using optical coherence tomography (OCT). Visual function was assessed by optokinetic (OKN) testing, electroretinogram (ERG), and superior colliculus (SC) electrophysiology. Cryostat sections were analyzed for various retinal/synaptic markers and for the expression of donor hPAP. Optical coherence tomography scans showed the placement and laminar development of retinal sheet transplants in the subretinal space. Optokinetic testing demonstrated a deficit in visual acuity in RD nude rats that was improved after retinal sheet transplantation. No ERG responses were detected in the RD nude rats with or without transplantation. Superior colliculus responses were absent in age-matched control and sham surgery RD nude rats; however, robust light-evoked responses were observed in a specific location in the SC of transplanted RD nude rats. Responsive regions corresponded to the area of transplant placement in the eye. The quality of visual responses correlated with transplant organization and placement. The data suggest that retinal sheet transplants integrate into the host retina of RD nude rats and recover significant visual function.