Many retinal dystrophies are associated with photoreceptor loss, which causes irreversible blindness. The recent identification of various sources of stem cells in the mammalian retina has raised the possibility that cell-based therapies might be efficient strategies to treat a wide range of incurable eye diseases. A first step towards the successful therapeutic exploitation of these cells is to unravel intrinsic and extrinsic regulators that control their proliferation and cell lineage determination. In this review, we provide an overview of the different types and molecular fingerprints of retinal stem cells identified so far. We also detail the current knowledge on molecular cues that influence their self-renewal and proliferation capacity. In particular, we focus on recent data implicating developmental signaling pathways, such as Wnt, Notch and Hedeghog, both in the normal and regenerating retina in different animal models. Last, we discuss the potential of ES cells and various adult stem cells for retinal repair.
Keywords: Retina, neural stem cells, regeneration, Muller glial cells, retinal pigment epithelium, canonical Wnt signaling, Hedgehog signaling, Notch/Delta pathway
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport