Potential of endothelial progenitors to reverse choroidal atrophy during age related macular degeneration

  • Stuart McKeown

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Pre-clinically ECFCs have already demonstrated a high potential for revascularisation in a number of models, this makes them an attractive candidate for a number of conditions where impaired blood flow is a factor affecting recovery. However, it is still important to consider the pathology that exists in these environments. The factors at play in the pathology of dry AMD have already proven detrimental to cell survival. To introduce cells into an area suffering from severe oxidative stress may risk exacerbating matters, if the cells are likely to become apoptotic or necrotic and adding to the noxious conditions of the environment. If a cell therapy is to be considered, steps must be taken to tackle this issue otherwise it may prove as ineffective as previous treatment options. Therefore, it is not enough to simply introduce the cells to such an environment; it may be more beneficial to enhance the cells functionality and viability. Such an improvement may allow the cells to better survive introduction into an oxidative environment and augment their ability to integrate with and repair damaged vasculature. Overall this could improve the probability of a successful procedure. This approach of cell functional improvement may bring us closer to developing a viable, cell based therapy to prevent the vision loss caused by dry AMD. The hypothesis of this PhD project is that the introduction of ECFCs into an environment that resembles the pathology of dry AMD will result in the reduction or elimination of the resulting pathological destruction of the choroidal/RPE/Photoreceptor complex. It is believed that ECFCs are capable of this due to existing pre clinical evidence, however the final aspect of this project will attempt to determine the possibility of conditioning the ECFCs to enhance their overall function as therapeutic cells as a viable option to augment their treatment efficacy.
Date of AwardDec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsFight for Sight (Inc British Eye Research Foundation)
SupervisorAlan Stitt (Supervisor) & Reinhold Medina (Supervisor)


  • Age-related Macular Degeneration
  • endothelial colony forming cells
  • choriocapillaris

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