Generation of retinal pigment epithelium from human induced pluripotent stem cells showed polarized secretion of VEGF and PEDF.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the major diseases that cause severe visual impairment in developed countries and is related to dysfunction of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have been drawing attention as a valuable source of RPE for basic research on or treatment of AMD. Here we investigated whether RPE could be generated from hiPSCs in Kawasaki Medical School. We maintained hiPSCs retaining pluripotent markers after a series of regular culture steps involving passaging, freezing, and thawing. hiPSCs were then cultured in RPE differentiation medium, and pigmented colonies were manually isolated for further differentiation into RPE. Differentiated cells formed pigmented cells with a typical RPE cobblestone appearance, abundant apical microvilli, adherens junctions, and tight junctions. Furthermore, generated pigmented cells expressed typical RPE marker genes, exhibited a barrier function, and secreted growth factors in a polarity-dependent manner similar to native RPE. These results indicate that RPE derived from hiPSCs in our facility can be used for in vitro and in vivo research. (Accepted on August 6, 2013)