Long-term full-thickness embryonic rabbit retinal transplants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PURPOSE: To establish the light and electron microscopic morphology of long-term full-thickness embryonic rabbit retinal transplants, with special attention paid to graft- host integration.

METHODS: Eighteen rabbits received a complete embryonic neuroretina 19 days after conception. The transplants were positioned under the host retina, flat against the host retinal pigment epithelium with proper polarity, using a vitrectomy technique. After surviving 3 to 10 months, the transplants were examined by light and electron microscopy.

RESULTS: The outer retina of the host had degenerated in all specimens. In 16 of the 18 eyes, well-laminated transplants with correct polarity, measuring up to 3.2 mm in length, were found. The transplants displayed long outer segments facing the host retinal pigment epithelium, and they were laminated to the level of the inner plexiform layer in which fusion with the host was often evident. Fusion was more prominent in the oldest transplants. Electron microscopy revealed bundles of neurites at different levels of maturation in close contact with Müller cell fimbriae at regular intervals along the graft-host border.

CONCLUSIONS: Full-thickness embryonic rabbit retinal transplants positioned with correct polarity develop into large laminated retinas and survive without immunosuppression for at least 10 months. Host and graft adapt and almost reconstruct the normal retinal appearance. Ultrastructurally, well-developed photoreceptors and many normal synapse types are seen, and neuron sprouting is evident at the graft-host border.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ophthalmology


  • Animals, Cell Polarity, Fetal Tissue Transplantation, Neural Pathways, Neurons, Rabbits, Retina, Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells, Retinal Ganglion Cells, Retinal Rod Photoreceptor Cells, Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-42
Number of pages10
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jan
Publication categoryResearch