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      Stimulation of Retinal Pigment Epithelium With an α7 nAChR Agonist Leads to Müller Glia Dependent Neurogenesis in the Adult Mammalian Retina


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          The adult mammalian retina is typically incapable of regeneration when damaged by disease or trauma. Restoration of function would require generation of new adult neurons, something that until recently, mammals were thought to be incapable of doing. However, previous studies from this laboratory have shown that the α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) agonist, PNU-282987, induces cell cycle reentry of Müller glia and generation of mature retinal neurons in adult rats, in the absence of detectible injury. This study analyzes how PNU-282987 treatment in RPE leads to robust BrdU incorporation in Müller glia in adult mice and leads to generation of Müller-derived retinal progenitors and neuronal differentiation.


          Retinal BrdU incorporation was examined after eye drop application of PNU-282987 in adult wild-type and transgenic mice that contain tamoxifen-inducible tdTomato Müller glia, or after intraocular injection of conditioned medium from PNU-282987–treated cultured RPE cells.


          PNU-282987 induced robust incorporation of BrdU in all layers of the adult mouse retina. The α7 nAChR agonist was found to stimulate cell cycle reentry of Müller glia and their generation of new retinal progenitors indirectly, via the RPE, in an α7 nAChR-dependent fashion.


          The results from this study point to RPE as a contributor to Müller glial neurogenic responses. The manipulation of the RPE to stimulate retinal neurogenesis offers a new direction for developing novel and potentially transformative treatments to reverse the loss of neurons associated with neurodegenerative disease, traumatic injury, or aging.

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          Most cited references60

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          Müller glia: Stem cells for generation and regeneration of retinal neurons in teleost fish.

          Adult zebrafish generate new neurons in the brain and retina throughout life. Growth-related neurogenesis allows a vigorous regenerative response to damage, and fish can regenerate retinal neurons, including photoreceptors, and restore functional vision following photic, chemical, or mechanical destruction of the retina. Müller glial cells in fish function as radial-glial-like neural stem cells. During adult growth, Müller glial nuclei undergo sporadic, asymmetric, self-renewing mitotic divisions in the inner nuclear layer to generate a rod progenitor that migrates along the radial fiber of the Müller glia into the outer nuclear layer, proliferates, and differentiates exclusively into rod photoreceptors. When retinal neurons are destroyed, Müller glia in the immediate vicinity of the damage partially and transiently dedifferentiate, re-express retinal progenitor and stem cell markers, re-enter the cell cycle, undergo interkinetic nuclear migration (characteristic of neuroepithelial cells), and divide once in an asymmetric, self-renewing division to generate a retinal progenitor. This daughter cell proliferates rapidly to form a compact neurogenic cluster surrounding the Müller glia; these multipotent retinal progenitors then migrate along the radial fiber to the appropriate lamina to replace missing retinal neurons. Some aspects of the injury-response in fish Müller glia resemble gliosis as observed in mammals, and mammalian Müller glia exhibit some neurogenic properties, indicative of a latent ability to regenerate retinal neurons. Understanding the specific properties of fish Müller glia that facilitate their robust capacity to generate retinal neurons will inform and inspire new clinical approaches for treating blindness and visual loss with regenerative medicine. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
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            HB-EGF is necessary and sufficient for Müller glia dedifferentiation and retina regeneration.

            Müller glia (MG) dedifferentiation into a cycling population of multipotent progenitors is crucial to zebrafish retina regeneration. The mechanisms underlying MG dedifferentiation are unknown. Here we report that heparin-binding epidermal-like growth factor (HB-EGF) is rapidly induced in MG residing at the injury site and that pro-HB-EGF ectodomain shedding is necessary for retina regeneration. Remarkably, HB-EGF stimulates the formation of multipotent MG-derived progenitors in the uninjured retina. We show that HB-EGF mediates its effects via an EGFR/MAPK signal transduction cascade that regulates the expression of regeneration-associated genes, like ascl1a and pax6(b). We also uncover an HB-EGF/Ascl1a/Notch/hb-egf(a)-signaling loop that helps define the zone of injury-responsive MG. Finally, we show that HB-EGF acts upstream of the Wnt/β-catenin-signaling cascade that controls progenitor proliferation. These data provide a link between extracellular signaling and regeneration-associated gene expression in the injured retina and suggest strategies for stimulating retina regeneration in mammals. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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              Retina regeneration in zebrafish.

              Unlike mammals, zebrafish are able to regenerate a damaged retina. Key to this regenerative response are Müller glia that respond to retinal injury by undergoing a reprogramming event that allows them to divide and generate a retinal progenitor that is multipotent and responsible for regenerating all major retinal neuron types. The fish and mammalian retina are composed of similar cell types with conserved function. Because of this it is anticipated that studies of retina regeneration in fish may suggest strategies for stimulating Müller glia reprogramming and retina regeneration in mammals. In this review we describe recent advances and future directions in retina regeneration research using zebrafish as a model system.

                Author and article information

                Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci
                Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci
                Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci
                Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science
                The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
                February 2019
                : 60
                : 2
                : 570-579
                [1 ]Western Michigan University, Department of Biological Sciences, Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States
                [2 ]Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Vanderbilt Eye Institute, Nashville, Tennessee, United States
                [3 ]University of Houston College of Optometry, Department of Physiological Optics and Vision Science, Houston, Texas, United States
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Cindy L. Linn, Department of Biological Sciences, Western Michigan University, 1903 West Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA; Cindy.linn@ 123456wmich.edu .
                iovs-60-01-26 IOVS-18-25722R1
                Copyright 2019 The Authors

                This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

                : 12 September 2018
                : 17 December 2018

                adult mammalian neurogenesis,alpha7 nicotinic ach receptor,pnu-282987,müller glia


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