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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1998 Feb;39(2):322-30.

Adhesion molecules and relationship to leukocyte levels in allergic eye disease.

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  • 1First Medicine Department, Southampton General Hospital, United Kingdom.



To evaluate the conjunctival expression of leukocyte cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) and their relationship to leukocyte patterns on the microvasculature in the different clinical subtypes of allergic eye disease.


Immunohistochemical analysis, using appropriate monoclonal antibodies, was applied to glycolmethacrylate-embedded biopsies of bulbar and tarsal conjunctival tissue. The proportion of total blood vessels expressing a particular CAM was derived and related to individual cell types identified by cell-specific markers, such as mast cells, eosinophils, neutrophils, T cells, and macrophages. Statistical analysis was used to correlate adhesion molecule expression and, ultimately, cell type.


There was a basal expression of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) (21% bulbar, 18% tarsal), E-selectin (15% bulbar, 21% tarsal), and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) (13% bulbar and tarsal) in normal controls. In seasonal and perennial (bulbar and tarsal conjunctival) allergic tissue, ICAM-1 and E-selectin were expressed in 40% to 78% of vessels; in chronic disease, they were expressed in 45% to 80% of vessels; and in vernal giant papillae, they were expressed in as many as 90% of vessels. There was also increased expression of endothelial VCAM-1 in all forms of allergic eye disease; the greatest values were found in vernal giant papillae (64%). Biopsies taken in winter from seasonal sufferers demonstrated a marked reduction in levels of all three CAMs compared with those taken in the pollen season. This is almost consistent with values found in normal conjunctiva. Positive correlations were found between the levels of ICAM-1 and E-selectin expression and the degree of granulocyte and lymphocyte infiltration, although VCAM-1 expression correlated most closely with eosinophil numbers.


Increased levels of cell adhesion molecules on the microvasculature and the factors that regulate them are likely to be responsible for the infiltration of cells bearing their ligands and may perpetuate inflammation in the chronic forms of allergic eye disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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