Glial cells as a source of progenitor cells in degenerative disease

Project Details

Generally, gliosis is a common feature of neurodegenerative diseases. In the retina, glia change in response to cell injury by first expressing intermediate filaments. At late stages of disease, glia proliferate and in some cases, proliferating glia change phenotype, down-regulating the expression of normal markers of glia, and up-regulating markers of pluripotent stem cells. Moreover, these dividing glia can form neurons, including photoreceptors in vitro, when treated with certain compounds. Our results have shown that glia proliferate at late stages of photoreceptor degeneration. This project will determine whether targeting certain cell signaling pathways can induce proliferating glia to take on a photoreceptor or neuronal phenotype.

Glial change in neurodegenerative disease of the retina

Figure 1: Müller cells undergo proliferation well after photoreceptor death.

Müller cells (red) in a model of retinal degeneration undergo proliferation (green).


Dr Ursula Greferath, Senior Research Officer

Research Group

Fletcher laboratory: Visual neuroscience

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Biomedical Neuroscience, Cellular Imaging & Structural Biology, Molecular Mechanisms of Disease

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Physiology

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