New Human Cell Line Developed to Study Blinding Eye Disorders

Summary: Researchers have developed a new experimental human cell line from retinal pigment epithelial cells, dubbed ABC cells, that can assist with the study of blinding eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration.

Source: LSU

Under the direction of Boyd Professor Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, scientists at LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence have developed a new, experimental human cell line from retinal pigment epithelial cells.

Called ABC, these cells so closely resemble and retain the properties of native retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, the research team has shown that they are a reliable cell system to study retinal degenerative diseases.

Their findings are published in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells serve as part of a blood / retinal barrier. They protect the integrity of photoreceptor cells critical to vision.

“Retinal pigment epithelial cells and photoreceptor cells are at constant risk of uncompensated oxidative stress because of their oxygen-rich environment, high flux of polyunsaturated fatty acids and high metabolic activity,” notes Dr. Bazan. “Impairments in RPE cell protection may lead to retinal degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”

The new cell has allowed the study of events relevant to the biology involved in the normal repair process, which eliminates cell structures damaged by oxidative stress.

“This new cell line also facilitates the search for mechanisms of senescence gene programming and the unraveling of the relationship between these mechanisms in the normal cycle of a cell for neuroprotection and cell survival,” Bazan adds.

Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells serve as part of a blood / retinal barrier. They protect the integrity of photoreceptor cells critical to vision. Image is in the public domain

According to the Library of Medicine, “Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness prevalent in developed countries, particularly in people older than 60 years. It accounts for 8.7% of all types of blindness worldwide.

There may be additional benefits of this new cell line.

“RPE cells also share features with brain cells,” says Bazan, who is also the inaugural founder of the Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair for Retinal Degenerative Diseases.

“This similarity is currently being used to convert RPE cells into photoreceptors for cellular replacement therapies in blinding eye diseases, and the new cell would be a good candidate for that purpose. This cell line may also be used to more precisely uncover the fundamental mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. ”.

Funding: This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Eye Institute (NEI) grant R01 EY005121 and the Eye Ear Nose & Throat (EENT) Foundation of New Orleans.

About this genetics and vision research news

Author: Leslie Capo
Source: LSU
Contact: Leslie Capo – LSU
Image: The image is in the public domain

See also

This shows a drawing of an eye

Original Research: Open access.
“New Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Model to Unravel Neuroprotection Sensors of Neurodegeneration in Retinal Disease” by Nicolas Bazan et al. Frontiers in Neuroscience


Abstract

New Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cell Model to Unravel Neuroprotection Sensors of Neurodegeneration in Retinal Disease

Retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells sustain photoreceptor integrity, and when this function is disrupted, retinal degenerations ensue. Herein, we characterize a new cell line from human RPE that we termed ABC. These cells remarkably recapitulate human eye native cells.

Distinctive from other epithelia, RPE cells originate from the neural crest and follow a neural development but are terminally differentiated into “epithelial” type, thus sharing characteristics with their neuronal lineages counterparts. Additionally, they form microvilli, tight junctions, and honeycomb packing and express distinctive markers. In these cells, outer segment phagocytosis, phagolysosome fate, phospholipid metabolism, and lipid mediator release can be studied.

ABC cells display higher resistance to oxidative stress and are protected from senescence through mTOR inhibition, making them more stable in culture. The cells are responsive to Neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), which downregulates inflammasomes and upregulates antioxidant and anti-inflammatory genes.

ABC gene expression profile displays close proximity to native RPE lineage, making them a reliable cell system to unravel signaling in uncompensated oxidative stress (UOS) and retinal degenerative disease to define neuroprotection sites.

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