Adult Retinal Stem Cells Revisited

Bhairavi Bhatia, Shweta Singhal, Hari Jayaram, Peng T Khaw, G. Astrid Limb*
Division of Ocular Biology and Therapeutics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital, London, UK

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© Bhatia et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Division of Ocular Biology and Therapeutics, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London SE1V 9EL, UK; Tel: 020 7608 6974; Fax: 020 7608 6887; E-mail:


Recent advances in retinal stem cell research have raised the possibility that these cells have the potential to be used to repair or regenerate diseased retina. Various cell sources for replacement of retinal neurons have been identified, including embryonic stem cells, the adult ciliary epithelium, adult Müller stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). However, the true stem cell nature of the ciliary epithelium and its possible application in cell therapies has now been questioned, leaving other cell sources to be carefully examined as potential candidates for such therapies. The need for identification of the ontogenetic state of grafted stem cells in order to achieve their successful integration into the murine retina has been recognized. However, it is not known whether the same requirements may apply to achieve transplant cell integration into the adult human eye. In addition, the existence of natural barriers for stem cell transplantation, including microglial accumulation and abnormal extracellular matrix deposition have been demonstrated, suggesting that several obstacles need to be overcome before such therapies may be implemented. This review addresses recent scientific developments in the field and discusses various strategies that may be potentially used to design cell based therapies to treat human retinal disease.

Keywords: Human retina, adult stem cells, Müller stem cells, ciliary marginal zone, regeneration, transplantation.