Concise Review: Update on Retinal Pigment Epithelium Transplantation for Age-Related Macular Degeneration

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32 Scopus citations


Retinal cell therapy can have the objectives of rescue (i.e., modulation of metabolic abnormalities primarily for sight preservation) as well as replacement (i.e., replace cells lost due to injury or disease for sight restoration as well as preservation). The first clinical trials of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) transplantation for vision-threatening complications of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have begun with some preliminary signs of success (e.g., improvement in vision in some patients, anatomic evidence of transplant-host integration with some evidence of host photoreceptor recovery, long-term survival of autologous induced pluripotent stem cell-derived RPE transplants without immune suppression) as well as limitations (e.g., limited RPE suspension survival in the AMD eye, limited tolerance for long-term systemic immune suppression in elderly patients, suggestion of uncontrolled cell proliferation in the vitreous cavity). RPE survival on aged and AMD Bruch's membrane can be improved with chemical treatment, which may enhance the efficacy of RPE suspension transplants in AMD patients. Retinal detachment, currently used to deliver transplanted RPE cells to the subretinal space, induces disjunction of the first synapse in the visual pathway: the photoreceptor-bipolar synapse. This synaptic change occurs even in areas of attached retina near the locus of detachment. Synaptic disjunction and photoreceptor apoptosis associated with retinal detachment can be reduced with Rho kinase inhibitors. Addition of Rho kinase inhibitors may improve retinal function and photoreceptor survival after subretinal delivery of cells either in suspension or on scaffolds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-477
Number of pages12
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cell Biology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Autologous stem cell transplantation
  • Cell transplantation
  • Clinical trials
  • Embryonic stem cells
  • Experimental models
  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Retina

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