• Endothelial progenitor cell transplantation;
  • Neurovascular protection;
  • Monocyte derived macrophages;
  • Residual microglia


Retinitis pigmentosa is a group of inherited eye disorders that result in profound vision loss with characteristic retinal neuronal degeneration and vasculature attenuation. In a mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa, endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) from bone marrow rescued the vasculature and photoreceptors. However, the mechanisms and cell types underlying these protective effects were uncertain. We divided EPC, which contribute to angiogenesis, into two subpopulations based on their aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity and observed that EPC with low ALDH activity (Alde-Low) had greater neuroprotection and vasoprotection capabilities after injection into the eyes of an rd1 mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa compared with EPC with high ALDH activity (Alde-High). Of note, Alde-Low EPC selectively recruited F4/80+/Ly6c+ monocyte-derived macrophages from bone marrow into retina through CCL2 secretion. In addition, the mRNA levels of CCR2, the neurotrophic factors TGF-β1 and IGF-1, and the anti-inflammatory mediator interleukin-10 were higher in migrated F4/80+/Ly6c+ monocyte-derived macrophages as compared with F4/80+/Ly6c resident retinal microglial cells. These results suggest a novel therapeutic approach using EPC to recruit neuroprotective macrophages that delay the progression of neural degenerative disease. Stem Cells 2013;31:2149–2161