• adult peripheral blood;
  • integrate;
  • mononuclear cell;
  • multipotent differentiation;
  • neural precursor cells;
  • retina;
  • retinal progenitor cell;
  • transdifferentiate


Adult peripheral blood-derived cells are able to differentiate into a variety of cell types, including nerve cells, liver-like cells and epithelial cells. However, their differentiation into retina-like cells is controversial. In the present study, transdifferentiation potential of human adult peripheral blood mononuclear cells into retina-like cells and integration into the retina of mice were investigated. Freshly isolated adult peripheral blood mononuclear cells were divided into two groups: cells in group I were cultured in neural stem cell medium, and cells in group II were exposed to conditioned medium from rat retinal tissue culture. After 5 days, several distinct cell morphologies were observed, including standard mononuclear, neurons with one or two axons and elongated glial-like cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of neural stem cell, neuron and retina cell markers demonstrated that cells in both groups were nestin-, MAP2 (microtubule-associated protein)- and GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein)-positive. Flow cytometry results suggested a significant increase in nestin-, MAP2- and CD16-positive cells in group I and nestin-, GFAP-, MAP2-, vimentin- and rhodopsin-positive cells in group II. To determine survival, migration and integration in vivo, cell suspensions (containing group I or group II cells) were injected into the vitreous or the peritoneum. Tissue specimens were obtained and immunostained 4 weeks after transplantation. We found that cells delivered by intravitreal injection integrated into the retina. Labelled cells were not detected in the retina of mice receiving differentiated cells by intraperitoneal injection, but cells (groups I and II) were detected in the liver and spleen. Our findings revealed that human adult peripheral blood mononuclear cells could be induced to transdifferentiate into neural precursor cells and retinal progenitor cells in vitro, and the differentiated peripheral blood mononuclear cells can migrate and integrate into the retina in vivo.