Putnam Valley, NY. (July 11, 2012) A research team in the United Kingdom has found that insulin-like growth factor (IGF1) impacts cell transplantation of photoreceptor precursors by manipulating the retinal recipient microenvironment, enabling better migration and integration of the cells into the adult mouse retina.
Their study is published in the current issue of Cell Transplantation (21:5), now freely available on-line at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct/.
"Photoreceptor death is an irreversible process and represents one of the largest causes of untreatable blindness in the developed world," said Dr. Rachael A. Pearson, study co-author and a member of the Department of Genetics, University College London Institute of Ophthalmology. "Stem cell replacement therapy offers a novel strategy for retinal repair, but since it is likely that a large number of cells would be needed to restore vision, enhancement of the process is needed."
In this study, the researchers used adeno-associated viral vectors (AAVs) to introduce three growth factors previously reported to play a role in photoreceptor development - IGF1, fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) and ciliary neurotrophic factor (CNTF) - into the retinas of adult mice. At three weeks post-transplantation, the number of integrated, differentiated photoreceptor cells present in the growth factor-treated retinas was compared to the untreated controls.
The researchers noted that all three growth factors are present during retinal development and all have been shown to affect photoreceptor differentiation. FGF2 has been shown to have varying effects based on the development stage of the cells to which it is applied. In addition, recent studies have shown that CNTF "acts transiently to suppress photoreceptor differentiation."
"AAV mediated expression of IGF1 led to significantly increased levels of cell i
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