Retinal Regeneration

Last modified on October 29, 2011. . 


Our lab is also studying the molecular and cellular changes that occur during regeneration of the retina.  Retinal regeneration has been known to occur in amphibians and fish for many years, but more recently several labs have shown that some regeneration may also be possible in warm-blooded vertebrates, like birds and mammals.

Several years ago we found that the bird retina has a limited capacity to regenerate new neurons after the retina is experimentally damaged with neurotoxins. We have found that the Muller glial cells re-enter mitosis and some of their progeny differentiate into new retinal neurons ( Fischer, A.J. and Reh, TA (2001) Muller glia are a potential source of neural regeneration in the postnatal chicken retina. Nature Neuroscience 4:247-252 ).

More recently, our lab and others have found that the Muller glia may also have some potential for regenerating new neurons in mice.  We are currently investigating the role of specific transcription factors and epigenetic modifications to the genome in the reprogramming process that allows Muller glia to undergo a process of regulated reprogramming to produce retinal progenitors in some species and how these factors limit reprogramming in other species.

Bermingham-McDonogh O, Reh TA. Regulated reprogramming in the regeneration of sensory receptor cells. Neuron. 2011 Aug 11;71(3):389-405.       

Karl MO, Hayes S, Nelson BR, Tan K, Buckingham B, Reh TA. Stimulation of neural regeneration in the mouse retina. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 105(49):19508-13   

Karl MO, Reh TA. (2010) Regenerative medicine for retinal diseases: activating endogenous repair mechanisms. Trends Mol Med. 2010 Apr;16(4):193-202.