Mesenchymal stromal cell-mediated neuroprotection and functional preservation of retinal ganglion cells in a rodent model of glaucoma

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BACKGROUND AIMS: Glaucoma is a leading cause of irreversible blindness involving loss of retinal ganglion cells (RGC). Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) have shown promise as a paracrine-mediated therapy for compromised neurons. It is, however, unknown whether dental pulp stem cells (DPSC) are effective as a cellular therapy in glaucoma and how their hypothesized influence compares with other more widely researched MSC sources. The present study aimed to compare the efficacy of adipose-derived stem cells, bone marrow-derived MSC (BMSC) and DPSC in preventing the loss of RGC and visual function when transplanted into the vitreous of glaucomatous rodent eyes.

METHODS: Thirty-five days after raised intraocular pressure (IOP) and intravitreal stem cell transplantation, Brn3a(+) RGC numbers, retinal nerve fibre layer thickness (RNFL) and RGC function were evaluated by immunohistochemistry, optical coherence tomography and electroretinography, respectively.

RESULTS: Control glaucomatous eyes that were sham-treated with heat-killed DPSC had a significant loss of RGC numbers, RNFL thickness and function compared with intact eyes. BMSC and, to a greater extent, DPSC provided significant protection from RGC loss and RNFL thinning and preserved RGC function.

DISCUSSION: The study supports the use of DPSC as a neuroprotective cellular therapy in retinal degenerative disease such as glaucoma.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Early online date17 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • dental pulp stem cells, glaucoma, stem cell transplantation, mesenchymal stromal cells, neuroprotection, retinal ganglion cells