Visual Neuroscience

Review Articles

Photoreceptor replacement therapy: Challenges presented by the diseased recipient retinal environment

RACHAEL A. PEARSONa1, CLAIRE HIPPERTa1, ANNA B. GRACAa1 and AMANDA C. BARBERa2

a1 Department of Genetics, University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, London, UK

a2 John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Abstract

Vision loss caused by the death of photoreceptors is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the developed world. Rapid advances in stem cell biology and techniques in cell transplantation have made photoreceptor replacement by transplantation a very plausible therapeutic strategy. These advances include the demonstration of restoration of vision following photoreceptor transplantation and the generation of transplantable populations of donor cells from stem cells. In this review, we present a brief overview of the recent progress in photoreceptor transplantation. We then consider in more detail some of the challenges presented by the degenerating retinal environment that must play host to these transplanted cells, how these may influence transplanted photoreceptor cell integration and survival, and some of the progress in developing strategies to circumnavigate these issues.

(Received February 02 2014)

(Accepted April 28 2014)

(Online publication June 19 2014)

Keywords

  • Transplantation;
  • Photoreceptor;
  • Degeneration;
  • Gliosis;
  • Stem cells

Correspondence

c1 Address correspondence to: Rachael A. Pearson, Department of Genetics, University College London Institute of Ophthalmology, 11-43 Bath Street, London EC1V 9EL, UK. E-mail: rachael.pearson@ucl.ac.uk