Skip to content

'Monocyte factory' to help scientists study immune-related conditions of the eye

Scientists at the National Eye Institute have published a protocol for generating immune cells from patient-derived stem cells.
March 15, 2024
NEI

Scientists at the National Eye Institute have published a protocol for generating immune cells from patient-derived stem cells. The technique, known by the research team as a “monocyte factory,” makes possible a theoretically limitless source of human immune cells for research and the development of therapies for a variety of conditions including eye disease. The team, led by Kapil Bharti, Ph.D., is exploring the effects of the immune system on the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), one of the most common causes of blindness in older people. 

Tea Soon Park, Ph.D., describes the monocyte factory protocol, which was developed by the NEI Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section, a part of the NEI Intramural Research Program. 

Monocytes are specialized immune cells that can change into other immune cell types, including M1 and M2 macrophages, dendritic cells, and microglia. M1 macrophages promote inflammation while M2 macrophages promote the growth of capillaries. Dendritic cells patrol the body and help the immune system produce antibodies against pathogens. Microglia are resident immune cells of the central nervous system including the retina. Each of these cell types plays a crucial role in maintaining ocular health. Scientists are exploring how immune cell dysfunction may contribute to disease pathogenesis.

The protocol, developed by scientists in the NEI Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section and published in Star Protocols, a Cell Press journal, outlines from start to finish the steps for culturing cells, starting with induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. iPS cells come from adult blood or skin cells that are reverse engineered in the lab to an immature state with the potential to become theoretically any specialized cell type in the body. 

team photo

The team responsible for developing the protocol, from left to right, are Jiwon Ryu, Jair Montford, Tea Soon Park, and Devika Bose. Other scientists who helped develop the protocol are Rishabh Hirday, Russell Quinn, Sheela Panicker Jacob, Ruchi Sharma, and Kapil Bharti.

From IPS cells to monocytes takes 3 to 4 weeks after which the cells can be harvested about two times per week for up to four weeks or grown into macrophages, dendritic cells, or microglia. Cells can be frozen, thawed, and regrown for experimentation. 

Information about 

AMD

NEI Ocular and Stem Cell Translational Research Section

More NEI research news

Reference: 
Park TS, Hirday R, Quinn R, et al. Differentiation of monocytes and polarized M1/M2 macrophages from human induced pluripotent stem cells. STAR Protoc. Jan 12 2024;5(1):102827. doi:10.1016/j.xpro.2023.102827
 

 

 

Contact

Dustin Hays or Claudia Costabile