Long-term outcome of RPE allografts to the subretinal space of rabbits.Acta Ophthalmol Scand. 1999 Jun; 77(3):247-54.AO
To determine the long-term RPE allograft survival in the subretinal space using suspensions of RPE cells and atraumatic transplantation surgery.
Nineteen albino rabbits were transplanted with suspensions of pigmented RPE cells from brown rabbits. Following pars plana vitrectomy, the RPE cell suspension was injected through a small retinotomy using a glass micropipette into the subretinal space under microscopic control. No immunosuppression was used. The eyes were monitored by biomicroscopy, color fundus photography, and fluorescein angiography. Rabbits were sacrificed at 1, 3 and 6 months, respectively, and the eyes processed for light and electron microscopy, using monoclonal antibodies for identifying macrophages.
Transplanted RPE cells were present in the subretinal space in all eyes at 6 months. There was no fluorescein leakage. Generally, the RPE allograft formed a monolayer, but focal fragmentation and disruption with dispersion of melanin pigment occurred. Foci of multilayers of cells in the subretinal space, containing large macrophages, were associated with adjacent photoreceptor damage. There was no infiltration of lymphocytes but macrophages and glial cells were contiguous to the transplant. Cells harboring intracytoplasmatic melanin pigment were observed in the neural retina.
Transplantation of RPE cell suspensions to the subretinal space generally forms a monolayer that persists at 6 months. However, in areas of multilayers of RPE cells and macrophages, graft failure occurs in combination with adjacent photoreceptor damage. Graft failure is not associated with the infiltration of lymphocytes, but other mechanisms seem to occur.