Transplantation of cultured adult porcine full-thickness retina.
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In this study we wanted to examine how an adult neuroretina from an animal with an eye similar to the human one survives in vitro. We also wanted to investigate how the culture process affects the adult retina when used in a transplantation paradigm. Full-thickness neuroretinal sheets from adult porcine eyes were dissected into pieces measuring 3 mm in diameter. These were kept in culture for 1-3 days. After this time, the explants were fixed or transplanted subretinally to adult pigs, which were killed after 72-74 days. Transplanted eyes, as well as tissue kept in culture only, were processed for hematoxylin and eosin staining and immunohistochemistry. Explants kept I day in vitro (DIV) displayed the normal morphology. In these specimens, single pyknotic cells were evident in the outer nuclear layer (ONL) and ganglion cell layer, but were more frequent in the inner nuclear layer (INL). After longer times in vitro, severe degenerative changes appeared. Transplanted explants kept I DIV prior to transplantation exhibited normal retina] lamination in two out of four specimens. Transducin and recoverin labeling revealed photoreceptors with inner segments in these grafts. Rod bipolar cells displayed a normal morphology. Vertically arranged Muller cells were also seen in the laminated grafts. Two of the three transplants kept 2 DIV displayed minimal lamination. Eyes with transplants kept 3 DIV prior to transplantation displayed degenerated grafts in all eyes. This study shows that adult porcine neuroretinal explants kept in culture for I day display a normal morphology in their major part. Additionally, 1-day explants can survive transplantation with retained morphology even after several months. This indicates the possibility of storing adult donor tissue between harvest and transplantation. The culture system may also be used in the future as a tool for manipulating retina] donor tissue prior to transplantation.