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PhD SP06

Impact of adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) on diabetic and proliferative retinopathy

Supervisor (Mannheim): Karen Bieback
Co-Supervisor (Groningen): Martin Harmsen
Graduate: Hélène Willer

Project description

Pericyte loss is the earliest morphological sign of diabetic retinopathy We hypothesize that diabetic retinopathy can be delayed or prevented through restoration of pericytes and pericyte function by adipose tissue-derived stem/stromal cells (ASC). According to surface and internal marker validation, ASCs share pericyte characteristics, and may have a therapeutic benefit in injured microvessels in the eye. The main aims of this project are to i) investigate whether ASC support long-term normalization of the vasculature in the diabetic retina, ii) dissect the molecular mechanisms of ADSC-driven pericyte restoration, iii) evaluate potential immunomodulatory effects of ASC within the diabetic retina.


  1. *Fiori et al Immunobiology. 2018;223:729-743.
  2. *Netsch et al Stem Cell Res Ther. 2018;9:184
  3. *Terlizzi et al Stem Cells. 2018;36:240-251
  4. *Hajmousa G Diabetologia. 2018;61:2371-2385.
  5. *Hajmousa G Stem Cells Dev. 2016;25:1444-53.
  6. Ezquer et al Stem Cell Res Ther. 2016 Mar 16;7:42.
  7. Rajashekhar et al PLoS One. 2014;9:e84671.
  8. *Dreher et al Stem Cells Dev. 2013; 22:791-803

*Own Publications

Methods used

ASC isolation and culture, murine model of retinopathy of prematurity and diabetic animal models, histology, immunofluorescence, gene and protein expression analyses 

Collaboration Partners

  • Christiane Pfarrer, Hannover
  • Martin Harmsen, Groningen
  • Hans-Peter Hammes, Mannheim
  • Jens Kroll, Mannheim
  • Peter Nawroth, Heidelberg