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Histological evidence for revascularisation of an autologous retinal pigment epithelium–choroid graft in the pig
  1. Kristel J M Maaijwee1,
  2. Jan C van Meurs2,
  3. Bernd Kirchhof1,
  4. Cornelia M Mooij3,
  5. Jurgen H Fischer4,
  6. Jerzy Mackiewicz1,
  7. Karin Kobuch5,
  8. Antonia M Joussen1
  1. 1Department of Vitreoretinal Surgery, Center of Ophthalmology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  2. 2Department of Vitreoretinal Surgery, Rotterdam Eye Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Department of Pathology, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Institute of Experimental Medicine, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  5. 5Department of Ophthalmology, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to: Antonia M Joussen Department of Ophthalmology, University of Duesseldorf, Moorenstr. 5, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany; joussena{at}googlemail.com

Abstract

Background: Translocation of a free autologous graft consisting of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), Bruch’s membrane, choriocapillaris and choroid in patients with exudative age-related macular degeneration is currently being evaluated in clinical practice. Angiographic studies in these patients suggest that their grafts become revascularised.

Aim: To investigate the histological evidence of revascularisation of the graft in a porcine model.

Methods: In 11 pigs (11 eyes), an RPE–choroid graft was translocated from the mid-periphery to an intact or an intentionally damaged RPE and Bruch’s membrane at the recipient site. The eyes were enucleated 1 week or 3 months after surgery. Tissue sections were evaluated using immunohistochemistry.

Results: Bridging vessels between recipient layer and graft were identified from 1 week to 3 months after surgery. This reconnection occurred regardless of whether the Bruch’s membrane of the recipient site was left intact or intentionally damaged at the time of transplantation. The vasculature of the graft appeared open and perfused. Vessels with transcapillary pillars and conglomerates of small new vessels were present in the graft.

Conclusions: This study showed histological evidence for revascularisation by angiogenesis of a free autologous RPE–choroid graft.

  • AMD, age-related macular degeneration
  • CNV, choroidal neovascularisation
  • f lt-1, antibody directed against VEGF receptor-1
  • PAS, periodic acid Schiff
  • PBS, phosphate-buffered saline
  • RPE, retinal pigment epithelium
  • VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor
  • VWF, von Willebrand factor

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Footnotes

  • Published Online First 20 September 2006

  • Funding: This study was funded by the RetinoVit Stiftung, Cologne, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG Jo-324/4-1 (AMJ), DFG Jo-324/6-1 (Emmy Noether Grant to AMJ), and DFG Ki-743/5-1 (BK, AMJ) and the SWOO-Flieringa Foundation, the Rotterdam Eye Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

  • Competing interests: None.

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