Glial cells as a source of progenitor cells in degenerative disease
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.
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
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