Date Published:2015 Nov 24
Tissue decellularization strategies have enabled engineering of scaffolds that preserve native extracellular matrix (ECM) structure and composition. In this study, we developed decellularized retina (decell-retina) thin films. We hypothesized that these films, mimicking the retina niche, would promote human retinal progenitor cell (hRPC) attachment, proliferation and differentiation. Retinas isolated from bovine eyes were decellularized using 1% w/v sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) and pepsin digested. The resulting decell-retina was biochemically assayed for composition and cast dried to develop thin films. Attachment, viability, morphology, proliferation and gene expression of hRPC cultured on the films were studied in vitro. Biochemical analyses of decell-retina compared to native retina indicated the bulk of DNA (94%) was removed, while the majority of sulfated GAGs (55%), collagen (83%), hyaluronic acid (87%), and key growth factors were retained. The decell-retina films supported hRPC attachment and growth, with cell number increasing 1.5-fold over a week. RT-PCR analysis revealed hRPC expression of rhodopsin, rod outer membrane, neural retina-specific leucine zipper neural and cone-rod homeobox gene on decell-retina films, indicating photoreceptor development. In conclusion, novel decell-retina films show promise as potential substrates for culture and/or transplantation of retinal progenitor cells to treat retinal degenerative disorders.