Retinal disease in ciliopathies: Recent advances with a focus on stem cell-based therapies.

Academic Article


  • Ciliopathies display extensive genetic and clinical heterogeneity, varying in severity, age of onset, disease progression and organ systems affected. Retinal involvement, as demonstrated by photoreceptor dysfunction or death, is a highly penetrant phenotype among a vast majority of ciliopathies. Photoreceptor cells possess a specialized and modified sensory cilium with membrane discs where efficient photon capture and ensuing signaling cascade initiate the visual process. Disruptions of cilia biogenesis and protein transport lead to impairment of photoreceptor function and eventually degeneration. Despite advances in elucidation of ciliogenesis and photoreceptor cilia defects, we have limited understanding of pathogenic mechanisms underlying retinal phenotype(s) observed in human ciliopathies. Patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based approaches offer a unique opportunity to complement studies with model organisms and examine cilia disease relevant to humans. Three-dimensional retinal organoids from iPSC lines feature laminated cytoarchitecture, apical-basal polarity and emergence of a ciliary structure, thereby permitting pathogenic modeling of human photoreceptors in vitro. Here, we review the biology of photoreceptor cilia and associated defects and discuss recent progress in evolving treatment modalities, especially using patient-derived iPSCs, for retinal ciliopathies.
  • Authors


  • Photoreceptor cilium, cell replacement, drug discovery, gene therapy, iPSC, organoid culture, retinal neurodegeneration, translational therapeutics
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 18376220
  • Author List

  • Chen HY; Welby E; Li T; Swaroop A
  • Start Page

  • 97
  • End Page

  • 115
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • 1-2