Human Adipose-Derived Stem Cells Delay Retinal Degeneration in Royal College of Surgeons Rats Through Anti-Apoptotic and VEGF-Mediated Neuroprotective Effects

Author(s): Z. Li, J. Wang, F. Gao, J. Zhang, H. Tian, X. Shi, C. Lian, Y. Sun, W. Li, J.-Y. Xu, P. Li, J. Zhang, Z. Gao, J. Xu, F. Wang, L. Lu, G.-T. Xu

Journal Name: Current Molecular Medicine

Volume 16 , Issue 6 , 2016

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Stem cell therapy is a promising therapeutic approach for retinal degeneration (RD). Our study investigated the effects of human adipose derived stem cell (hADSCs) on Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats.

Methods: Green fluorescent protein (GFP)-labeled hADSCs were transplanted subretinally into RCS rats at postnatal (PN) 21 days to explore potential therapeutic effects, while adeno-associated viral vector (AAV2)-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and siVEGF-hADSCs were used to aid the mechanistic dissections. Visual function was evaluated by Electroretinogram (ERG) recording. Potential transdifferentiations were examined by Immunofluorescence (IF) and gene expressions were analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Apoptotic retinal cells were detected by Terminal Deoxynucleotidyl Transferase dUTP Nick End Labeling (TUNEL) assay and the cytokines secreted by hADSCs were measured by Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA).

Results: The visual function of RCS rats began to decrease one week after their eyes opened at PN week 3 and almost lost in PN 5 weeks, accompanied by the loss of retinal outer nuclear layer (ONL). Subretinal transplantation of hADSCs significantly improved the visual function 2 weeks after the transplantation and such therapeutic effect persisted up to 8 weeks after the treatment (PN 11 weeks), with 3-4 rows of photoreceptors remained in the ONL and reduced apoptosis. Consistent with these phenotypic changes, the gene expression of rod photoreceptor markers Rhodopsin (Rho), Crx and Opsin (Opn1) in RCS rats showed obvious decreasing trends over time after PN 3 weeks, but were elevated with hADSC treatment. hADSC transplantation also repressed the expressions of Bax, Bak and Caspase 3, but not the expression of anti-apoptotic genes, including Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL. Finally, substantial VEGF, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and pigment epithelium-derived factor (PEDF) secretions from hADSCs were detected, while endogenous Vegf expression level decreased over time in RCS rats. The treatment of AAV2-VEGF showed comparable therapeutic effects as hADSCs but siRNA knockdown of VEGF in hADSCs essentially abolished the therapeutic effects.

Conclusions: Subretinal transplantation of hADSCs in RCS rats effectively delayed the retinal degeneration, enhanced the retinal cell survival and improved the visual function. Mechanistically this was mainly due to hADSC dependent anti-apoptotic and neuroprotective effects through its secretion of growth and neurotrophic factors including VEGF. Clinical application of hADSCs merits further investigation.

Keywords: Adipose derived stem cell, retinal degeneration, neuroprotection, apoptosis.

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Article Details

Year: 2016
Published on: 20 July, 2016
Page: [553 - 566]
Pages: 14
DOI: 10.2174/1566524016666160607090538
Price: $65

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