Stem cells in combination with 3D bioprinting produce eye tissue!

 | Post date: 2022/12/28 | 
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of blindness, initiates in the outer-blood-retina-barrier (oBRB) formed by the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), Bruch’s membrane, and choriocapillaris. The mechanisms of AMD initiation and progression remain poorly understood owing to the lack of physiologically relevant human oBRB models. In this regard, from the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, printed a combination of cells that form the outer blood-retina barrier - eye tissue that supports the retina's light-sensing photoreceptors. The technique provides a theoretically unlimited supply of patient-derived tissue to study degenerative retinal diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). 

They engineered a native-like three-dimensional (3D) oBRB tissue (3D-oBRB) by bioprinting endothelial cells, pericytes, and fibroblasts on the basal side of a biodegradable scaffold and establishing an RPE monolayer on top. In this 3D-oBRB model, a fully-polarized RPE monolayer provides barrier resistance, induces choriocapillaris fenestration, and supports the formation of Bruch’s-membrane-like structure by inducing changes in gene expression in cells of the choroid. Complement activation in the 3D-oBRB triggers dry AMD phenotypes (including subRPE lipid-rich deposits called drusen and choriocapillaris degeneration), and HIF-α stabilization or STAT3 overactivation induce choriocapillaris neovascularization and type-I wet AMD phenotype. The 3D-oBRB provides a physiologically relevant model to studying RPE–choriocapillaris interactions under healthy and diseased conditions.
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