Cell therapy applications for retinal vascular diseases: Diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion

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35 Scopus citations


Retinal vascular conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein occlusion, remain leading causes of vision loss. No therapy exists to restore vision loss resulting from retinal ischemia and associated retinal degeneration. Tissue regeneration is possible with cell therapy. The goal would be to restore or replace the damaged retinal vasculature and the retinal neurons that are damaged and/or degenerating from the hypoxic insult. Currently, various adult cell therapies have been explored as potential treatment. They include mesenchymal stem cells, vascular precursor cells (i.e., CD34+ cells, hematopoietic cells or endothelial progenitor cells), and adipose stromal cells. Preclinical studies show that all these cells have a paracrine trophic effect on damaged ischemic tissue, leading to tissue preservation. Endothelial progenitor cells and adipose stromal cells integrate into the damaged retinal vascular wall in preclinical models of diabetic retinopathy and ischemiareperfusion injury. Mesenchymal stem cells do not integrate as readily but appear to have a primary paracrine trophic effect. Early phase clinical trials have been initiated and ongoing using mesenchymal stem cells or autologous bone marrow CD34+ cells injected intravitreally as potential therapy for diabetic retinopathy or retinal vein occlusion. Adipose stromal cells or pluripotent stem cells differentiated into endothelial colony-forming cells have been explored in preclinical studies and show promise as possible therapies for retinal vascular disorders. The relative safety or efficacy of these various cell therapies for treating retinal vascular disorders have yet to be determined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)ORSFj1-ORSFj10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016


  • Diabetic retiopathy
  • Retinal ischemia
  • Retinal vasculopathy
  • Retinal vein occlusion
  • Stem cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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