Scientists Develop New Human Cell Line to Study Blinding Eye Disorders

Scientists Develop New Human Cell Line to Study Blinding Eye Disorders

October 18, 2022
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Scientists at the LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence have created a novel, experimental human cell line from retinal pigment epithelial cells, under the supervision of Boyd Professor Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD.

The research team has demonstrated that these cells, known as ABC, are a reliable cell system to investigate retinal degenerative diseases because they so closely mimic and retain the characteristics of native retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.

The study has been published in Frontiers Neuroscience.

RPE cells, which make up the blood/retina barrier, are made of retinal pigment epithelial tissue. They maintain the health of the vision-essential photoreceptor cells.

“Retinal pigment epithelial cells and photoreceptor cells are at constant risk for uncompensated oxidative stress because of their oxygen-rich environment, high flux of polyunsaturated fatty acids and high metabolic activity,” notes Dr. Bazan. “Impairments in RPE cell protection may lead to retinal degenerative diseases, including age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”

According to the study, the new cell has allowed the study of events relevant to the biology involved in the normal repair process, which eliminates cell structures damaged by oxidative stress.

“This new cell line also facilitates the search for mechanisms of senescence gene programming and the unraveling of the relationship between these mechanisms in the normal cycle of a cell for neuroprotection and cell survival,” Bazan adds.

There may be additional benefits of this new cell line. “RPE cells also share features with brain cells,” says Bazan, who is also the inaugural founder of the Ernest C. and Yvette C. Villere Chair for Retinal Degenerative Diseases. “This similarity is currently being used to convert RPE cells into photoreceptors for cellular replacement therapies in blinding eye diseases, and the new cell would be a good candidate for that purpose. This cell line may also be used to more precisely uncover the fundamental mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

Source: Frontiers Neuroscience