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Dendrimer-targeted immunosuppression of microglia reactivity super-accelerates photoreceptor regeneration in the zebrafish retina

By Kevin B Emmerich, David T White, Siva P Kambhampati, Grace Y Lee, Tian-Ming Fu, Arpan Sahoo, Meera T Saxena, Eric Betzig, Rangaramanujam M Kannan, Jeff S. Mumm

Posted 06 Aug 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.05.238352

M&uumlller glia (MG) function as injury-induced retinal stem cells in zebrafish but not mammals. Insights from zebrafish, however, have been used to stimulate limited regenerative responses from mammalian MG. Microglia/macrophages regulate MG stem cell activity in the chick, zebrafish and mouse. We previously showed that dexamethasone can accelerate retinal regeneration in zebrafish. Similarly, microglia ablation enhances regenerative outcomes in the mouse retina. Targeted immunomodulation may therefore enhance the regenerative potential of human MG. Nanoparticle-based immunomodulation is an emerging field with immense therapeutic potential. Here, we investigated how regeneration-enhancing dexamethasone treatments alter microglia behavior and how dendrimer-based targeting of dexamethasone to reactive microglia impact retinal regeneration kinetics. Intravital time-lapse imaging revealed specific dexamethasone-induced changes in microglia reactivity. Dendrimer-conjugated dexamethasone treatments resulted in: 1) decreased toxicity, 2) selective targeting of reactive microglia and, 3) super-accelerated retinal regeneration kinetics. These data support the use of dendrimer-based drug formulations for modulating microglia reactivity in degenerative disease contexts, especially as therapeutic strategies for promoting regenerative responses to neuronal cell loss.

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