Adult human periodontal ligament-derived stem cells delay retinal degeneration and maintain retinal function in RCS rats

Li Huang, Zongyi Li, Haibin Tian, Weiguo Wang, Dawei Cui, Zhe Zhou, Xiao Chen, Herman S. Cheung, Guo Tong Xu, Yu Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Retinal degeneration (RD) is a leading cause of irreversible blindness, affecting millions of people worldwide. Stem cell transplantation has been considered a promising therapy for retinal degenerative diseases. This study aimed to investigate the therapeutic potential of human periodontal ligament-derived stem cells (hPDLSCs) for intervention in the progress of this degeneration in the Royal College Surgeons (RCS) rat. Methods: hPDLSCs were injected into the subretinal space of 3-week-old RCS rats. Control animals received a phosphate-buffered saline injection or were untreated. Retinal function was assessed by electroretinography recording. Eyes were collected afterward for histology and molecular studies. Results: Retinal function maintenance was observed at 2 weeks and persisted for up to 8 weeks following hPDLSC transplantation. Retinal structure preservation was demonstrated in hPDLSC-transplanted eyes at 4 and 8 weeks following transplantation, as reflected in the preservation of outer nuclear layer thickness and gene expression of Rho, Crx, and Opsin. The percentage of terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling-positive apoptotic photoreceptors was significantly lower in the hPDLSC-injected retinas than in those of the control groups. hPDLSCs were also found to express multiple neurotrophic factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor, bioactive basic fibroblast growth factor, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin-3, insulin-like growth factor 1, nerve growth factor, and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that hPDLSC transplantation is effective in delaying photoreceptor loss and provides significant preservation of retinal function in RCS rats. This study supports further exploration of hPDLSCs for treating RD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number290
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 22 2017


  • Periodontal ligament
  • Retinal degeneration
  • Stem cells
  • Therapy
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


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