Image_11_Mouse Retinal Organoid Growth and Maintenance in Longer-Term Culture.TIF
Using retinal organoid systems, organ-like 3D tissues, relies implicitly on their robustness. However, essential key parameters, particularly retinal growth and longer-term culture, are still insufficiently defined. Here, we hypothesize that a previously optimized protocol for high yield of evenly-sized mouse retinal organoids with low variability facilitates assessment of such parameters. We demonstrate that these organoids reliably complete retinogenesis, and can be maintained at least up to 60 days in culture. During this time, the organoids continue to mature on a molecular and (ultra)structural level: They develop photoreceptor outer segments and synapses, transiently maintain its cell composition for about 5–10 days after completing retinogenesis, and subsequently develop pathologic changes – mainly of the inner but also outer retina and reactive gliosis. To test whether this organoid system provides experimental access to the retina during and upon completion of development, we defined and stimulated organoid growth by activating sonic hedgehog signaling, which in patients and mice in vivo with a congenital defect leads to enlarged eyes. Here, a sonic hedgehog signaling activator increased retinal epithelia length in the organoid system when applied during but not after completion of development. This experimentally supports organoid maturation, stability, and experimental reproducibility in this organoid system, and provides a potential enlarged retina pathology model, as well as a protocol for producing larger organoids. Together, our study advances the understanding of retinal growth, maturation, and maintenance, and further optimizes the organoid system for future utilization.