Vascular repair by adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is well-appreciated because these cells are known for their plasticity. We have shown that adult HSCs differentiate into endothelial cells and participate in both retinal and choroidal neovascularization. We asked whether HSCs participated in the wounding response by forming astrocytes, retinal pigment epithelia (RPE), macrophages, and pericytes. Lethally irradiated C57BL6/J mice were reconstituted with HSCs from mice homozygous for green fluorescent protein (GFP) and then subjected to laser-induced rupture of Bruch's membrane. After immunohistochemical examination of ocular tissue, GFP+ astrocytes were observed concentrated along the edge of the laser wound, where they and mural cells closely ensheathed the neovasculature. GFP+ vascular endothelial cells and macrophages/microglia were also evident. Large irregularly shaped GFP+ RPE cells constituted ∼93% of MPE cells adjacent to the edge of the denuded RPE area. In regions farther away from the wound, GFP+ RPE cells were integrated among the GFP- host RPE. Thus, postnatal HSCs can differentiate into cells expressing markers specific to astrocytes, macrophages/microglia, mural cells, or RPE. These studies suggest that HSCs could serve as a therapeutic source for long-term regeneration of injured retina and choroid in diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine