Transplantation of full-thickness retina in the rhodopsin transgenic pig.
PURPOSE: To establish the morphology of full-thickness neuroretinal grafts transplanted to hosts with degenerative photoreceptor disease. METHODS: Twenty rhodopsin transgenic pigs received a neuroretinal sheet from a neonatal normal pig in one eye. Following vitrectomy and retinotomy with bleb formation, the grafts were positioned inside the bleb between the host neuroretina and retinal pigment epithelium. After a survival time of 4 months, eye specimens were studied by light and electron microscopy as well as with immunohistochemical markers. RESULTS: One eye developed endophthalmitis in the immediate postoperative period and was terminated. Laminated grafts with correct polarity were found in 13 of the remaining 19 eyes. In most cases, these grafts had well-developed organized photoreceptors with outer segments apposed to the host retinal pigment epithelium. The inner layers of the graft contained mostly Müller cells. Both eyes of the hosts had a reduction of photoreceptor cells in most of the retina, while inner layers remained relatively intact. CONCLUSIONS: Full-thickness neuroretinal grafts can be transplanted to a large animal host with photoreceptor degeneration. The transplantation procedure is relatively atraumatic to both graft and host tissue, and the grafts survive well for at least 4 months. The graft and host retina does not seem to form extensive neuronal contacts, and future work must be directed at stimulating such activity without disrupting the retinal neuronal organization.
Ghosh, F; Wong, F; Johansson, K; Bruun, A; Petters, RM
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