Characterizing differences between MSCs and TM cells: Toward autologous stem cell therapies for the glaucomatous trabecular meshwork

Eric J. Snider, R. Taylor Vannatta, Lisa Schildmeyer, W. Daniel Stamer, C. Ross Ethier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, is characterized by an increase in intraocular pressure, which is largely determined by resistance to aqueous humour outflow through the trabecular meshwork (TM). In glaucoma, the cellularity of the TM is decreased, and, as a result, stem cell therapies for the TM represent a potential therapeutic option for restoring TM function and treating glaucoma patients. We here focus on adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a potential autologous cell source for TM regenerative medicine applications and describe characterization techniques at the messenger (reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction), protein (western blotting, flow cytometry), and functional (contractility, phagocytosis) levels to distinguish MSCs from TM cells. We present a panel of 12 transcripts to allow: (a) suitable normalization of reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction results across cell types and after exposure to potential differentiation stimuli; (b) distinguishing MSCs from TM cells; (c) distinguishing subtypes of TM cells; and (d) distinguishing TM cells from those in neighbouring tissue. At the protein level, dexamethasone induction of myocilin was a robust discriminating factor between MSCs and TM cells and was complemented by other protein markers. Finally, we show that contractility and phagocytosis differ between MSCs and TM cells. These methods are recommended for use in future differentiation studies to fully define if a functional TM-like phenotype is being achieved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-704
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • characterization
  • flow cytometry
  • glaucoma
  • mesenchymal stem cells
  • regenerative medicine
  • trabecular meshwork

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering


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