Culture of retinal pigment epithelium cells on the Mimetix scaffold

The aim of this case study was to evaluate whether the Mimetix scaffold can mimic Bruch’s membrane and assess the attachment, proliferation and differentiation of human RPE cells (ARPE-19) cells within it as a treatment option for age-related macular degeneration.

 Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of blindness in the UK, causing vision loss as a result of permanent damage or death to the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) or photoreceptor cells in the retina. The ability to replace and regenerate RPE cells on Bruch’s membrane could possibly lead to a number of therapeutic options to treat the cellular loss and dysfunction typical of AMD and other progressive retinopathies.

ARPE-19 human retinal pigment epithelial cells attached to the PLLA electrospun scaffolds, formed a monolayer, and continued to proliferate over a time period of 3 weeks. Immunocytochemistry of revealed strong protein expression of RPE65 over the 21 days culture. RPE65 protein is an isomerohydrolase expressed in retinal pigment epithelium which is essential for the regeneration of the visual pigment necessary for both rod and cone-mediated vision and used here as a marker of the differentiation status.

The study indicates that electrospun biomaterial scaffolds can be used to mimic Bruch’s membrane for the culture and transplantation of retinal cells in the sub-rental space as a therapeutic intervention for AMD treatment.

Images and introduction: Courtesy of Patrick Porter, University of Ulster