The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of the ocular environment on the survival, tumorigenicity, and phenotypic marker expression of immortalized retinal precursor cells transplanted into immunocompetent adult and neonatal Sprague-Dawley rates. E1A-NR.3, a rat immortalized retinal precursor cell culture, was used as an inexhaustible source of experimental graft material. These cells were prelabeled with the fluorescent marker diI (1,1'-dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethyl-indocarbocyanine perchlorate) and transplanted intravitreally (50,000 cells per μL) into 11 adult and 31 neonatal Sprague-Dawley rat eyes. At 1 mo posttransplant, animals were sacrificed and retinal tissue sections examined histologically for the presence of grafted cells, signs of tumor formation, and retinal phenotypic marker expression. No obvious signs of tumor formation or rejection were seen in a total of 42 eyes in the immunocompetent hosts. Our results indicate that E1A-NR.3 cells survive at least 1 month in vivo, and can migrate from the vitreous into neuroretinal cell layers. Subpopulations of surviving grafted cells were seen to express photoreceptor markers rhodopsin and recoverin comparably between in vitro and in vivo conditions. However, the number of cells immunoreactive for vimentin and E1A decreased significantly under in vivo conditions. This report represents the first experimental intravitreal transplantation of E1A-immortalized retinal precursor cells into adult and neonatal rats. The intraocular location and environment appears to affect phenotypic expression of surviving grafted cells, especially with respect to vimentin and E1A expression. The fact that E1A-NR.3 cells survived intraocularly at least 1 mo without tumor formation suggests that the cells may continue to be useful for further in vivo studies of experimental retinal transplantation, and effects of histological location on retinal cell phenotype and histogenesis in immunocompetent hosts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology