Transdifferentiation Potential of Ciliary and Pigment Epithelial Cells in Lower Vertebrates and Mammals

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Cellular composition of the peripheral region of the eye in amphibians and mammals as well as embryonic fissure in amphibians was studied. Different distributions of proliferating cells in retinal pigment epithelium have been revealed in adult amphibians (newt, axolotl, and Xenopus). Single cells incorporated [3H]thymidine in the newt and Xenopus; 0.4% cells, in the axolotl. An embryonic fissure was observed in the eye of the axolotl. Pigment epithelial cells in the embryonic palpebral region actively proliferated: about 20% cells incorporated [3H]thymidine. Proliferating cells were also localized in the ciliary marginal zone of the retina in all studied amphibians, particularly, in the axolotl. In newborn hamsters, [3H]thymidine-labeled cells have been revealed in the pigment epithelium as well as in the outer pigmented and inner unpigmented layers of the ciliary body. Proliferative activity of the peripheral regions of the eye is due to eye growth in adult amphibians and newborn hamsters. After retinectomy, the retina is regenerated from the cells of the growth ciliary marginal zone in all amphibians, pigment epithelial cells in the newt, and pigment epithelial cells of the embryonic fissure in the axolotl. Heterogeneous composition of the pigment epithelium in the newt and axolotl reflects high transdifferentiation potential of these regions. Structural comparison of the peripheral region of the eye in amphibians and mammals demonstrate that the ciliary body of mammals containing stem cells is homologous to the ciliary marginal zone of amphibians containing multipotent cells.

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