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DNA Cell Biol. 2002 May-Jun;21(5-6):453-9.

Ocular immune privilege and the impact of intraocular inflammation.

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Schepens Eye Research Institute, Department of Ophthalmology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Immune privilege, a characteristic of the internal compartments of the eye, is a physiologic mechanism that is designed to provide the eye with protection against pathogens while protecting the delicate visual axis from the sight-destroying potential of immunogenic inflammation. It is assumed that the presence of intraocular inflammation is incompatible with the existence of immune privilege. The validity of this assumption has been tested in four animal models of intraocular inflammation-systemic and local endotoxin-induced uveitis (EIU), mycobacterial adjuvant-induced uveitis (MAIU), and experimental autoimmune uveitis (EAU). Immune privilege was assessed in inflamed eyes by growth of intracamerally injected allogeneic tumor cells, by the capacity to support immune deviation following intracameral injection of antigen (ovalbumin, OVA), by assaying protein, leukocyte, and selected cytokine content of aqueous humor (AqH), and by capacity of inflamed AqH to suppress T cell activation in vitro. The results indicate that, irrespective of the type of inflammation, tumor cells formed progressively growing tumors in inflamed eyes. Moreover, OVA injected into the anterior chamber of eyes inflamed by MAIU and EAU failed to induce immune deviation. AqH from inflamed eyes reflected breakdown of the blood:ocular barrier as well as transient loss of its immunosuppressive properties. Immunosuppressive microenvironments routinely reemerged in inflamed eyes, and the immunosuppressive agent present under these circumstances in AqH was active TGF beta2. It is concluded that immune privilege is surprisingly resistant to abolition by intraocular inflammation, and that maintenance of immune privilege in the face of ongoing inflammation depends upon the emergence of progressive and partially different immunosuppressive mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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