Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Davis

UC Davis Previously Published Works bannerUC Davis

Subretinal versus intravitreal administration of human CD34+ bone marrow-derived stem cells in a rat model of inherited retinal degeneration



To evaluate whether subretinal or intravitreal injection of human CD34+ bone marrow-derived stem cells (BMSC) can have protective effects on retinal degeneration that may be enhanced by coadministration of exosomes harvested from human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).


Human CD34+ cells were harvested from the mononuclear cell fraction of bone marrow using magnetic beads and labeled with EGFP. Exosomes were harvested from cultured human MSCs under hypoxic conditions. Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) 3-weeks-old rats, immunosuppressed with cyclosporine A, received subretinal or intravitreal injection of CD34+ cells (50,000 cells), CD34+ cells with exosomes (50,000 cells+10 µg), exosomes alone (10 µg), or PBS. Retinal function was examined using electroretinography (ERG), and the eyes were harvested for histologic and immunohistochemical analysis.


The b-wave amplitude of ERG at 2 weeks after injection was significantly higher in eyes with subretinal or intravitreal CD34+ BMSC alone or in combination with exosomes when compared to PBS injected eyes or untreated contralateral eyes. At 4 weeks after injection, the ERG signal decreased in all groups but eyes with subretinal CD34+ BMSCs alone or combined with exosomes showed partially preserved ERG signal and preservation of the outer nuclear layer of the retina near the injection site on histology when compared to eyes with PBS injection. Immunohistochemical analysis identified the human cells in the outer retina. Subretinal or intravitreal exosome injection had no effect on retinal degeneration when administered alone or in combination with CD34+ cells.


Both subretinal and intravitreal injection of human CD34+ BMSCs can provide functional rescue of degenerating retina, although the effects were attenuated over time in this rat model. Regional preservation of the outer retina can occur near the subretinal injection site of CD34+ cells. These results suggest that CD34+ cells may have therapeutic potential in retinal degeneration.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View