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J Immunol. 2006 Nov 1;177(9):5928-35.

B7-H1-induced apoptosis as a mechanism of immune privilege of corneal allografts.

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Department of Ophthalmology, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo, Tokyo 113-8602, Japan.


The programmed death-1 (PD-1) costimulatory pathway has been demonstrated to play a role in the regulation of immune responses and peripheral tolerance. We investigated the role of this pathway in establishing an immune privilege status of corneal allografts in mice. B7-H1, but not B7-DC or PD-1, was expressed constitutively in the eye, i.e., cornea, iris-ciliary body, and retina. After corneal allografting, PD-1(+)CD4(+) T cells infiltrated and adhered with B7-H1(+) corneal endothelium. Blockade of PD-1 or B7-H1, but not B7-DC, led to accelerated corneal allograft rejection. In B7-H1-expressing corneal allografts, apoptosis of the infiltrating PD-1(+)CD4(+) or CD8(+) T cells was observed, after which there was allograft acceptance. In contrast, B7-H1 blockade suppressed apoptosis of infiltrating PD-1(+) T cells, which led to allograft rejection. In vitro, destruction of corneal endothelial cells by alloreactive T cells was enhanced when the cornea was pretreated with anti-B7-H1 Ab. This is the first demonstration that the constitutive expression of B7-H1 plays a critical role in corneal allograft survival. B7-H1 expressed on corneal endothelial cells maintains long-term acceptance of the corneal allografts by inducing apoptosis of effector T cells within the cornea.

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