Repair not Destruction: A New Approach to Treating Retinopathy

December 2006: Many diseases of the eye (such as retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and diabetic retinopathy) that result in loss of vision are the result of the growth of abnormal blood vessels that leak and bleed. Current treatments are designed to prevent the growth of these abnormal blood vessels.

However, the authors of a study using a mouse model of retinopathy suggest that an alternative treatment strategy might be to repair these blood vessels so that they do not leak and bleed, causing loss of vision.

In the study, which appeared online on November 16 in advance of publication in the December print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Martin Friedlander and colleagues from The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, show that the abnormal blood vessels that grow in the retina of mice exposed to a stimulus that induces retinopathy can be converted to normal blood vessels if the mice are transplanted with adult bone marrowderived myeloid progenitor cells.

Blood vessel repair occurred when the transplanted cells migrated to the eye and became cells known as microglial cells, it also required that the transplanted cells express a protein known as HIF-1-alpha.

This study has clinical relevance because it suggests that transplantation of autologous bone marrowderived progenitor cells might be a viable therapy for the treatment of human diseases that resemble this mouse model of retinopathy, such as ROP.

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TITLE: Myeloid progenitors differentiate into microglia and promote vascular repair in a model of ischemic retinopathy

Source: Journal of Clinical Investigation