Purpose: The standard treatment for retinal breaks is thermal adhesion. Breaks in the posterior pole (i.e., macular holes) recently have been treated using vitrectomy and the recombinant cytokine transforming growth factor-beta. This has been shown to achieve closure of the retinal breaks by stimulating localized fibrocellular proliferation. Serum has been shown to contain chemoattractants and mitogens for many types of cells. The authors studied the clinical and histologic effect of autologous serum application to retinal breaks in an experimental model. Method: Twenty-four rabbits underwent pars plana lensectomy, vitrectomy, retinectomy, fluid-air exchange, application of test solution (12 with Hank's buffered salt solution and 12 with autologous serum), and air-gas exchange. Clinical examination with indirect ophthalmoscopy was performed, and animals were killed 5, 14, and 28 days after treatment. Tissue sections through the retinectomy were studied by light microscopy, electron microscopy, and immunocytochemistry. Results: None of the serum-treated eyes showed retinal detachment at the site of the retinectomy by evaluation with indirect ophthalmoscopy at each of the time points. In contrast, in control eyes retinal detachment developed at the retinectomy site from 0% at day 5 to 50% at day 14 and 75% at day 28. By light microscopy, serum-treated eyes contained multilayers of fibroblast-like cells adhering the retinectomy edges to the underlying retinal pigment epithelium and choroid. The control eyes had nonadherent retinal edges at the retinectomy site with little sign of fibrocellular response. Results were confirmed by electron microscopy. The fibroblast-like cells by immunocytochemistry contained vimentin, cytokeratin 18, and jor glial fibrillary acidic protein. Conclusion: This study suggests that serum induces a localized fibrocellular response at the retinectomy edges compared with control eyes. This response, characterized by light microscopy, electron microscopy, and immunocytochemistry, appears to involve a mixed population of glial, retinal pigment epithelial, and/or fibroblastic cells. These cells seem to enhance adhesion and subsequent reattachment of the edges of the retinectomies at the time points studied when compared with controls.
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