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Br J Ophthalmol. 1998 Sep;82(9):1017-21.

Human antiretinal antibodies in toxoplasma retinochoroiditis.

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Department of Immunology, Rayne Institute, St Thomas's Hospital, London.



Toxoplasma retinochoroiditis (TR) is an important cause of blindness and visual morbidity, affecting young adults. It has been postulated that some of the retinal damage observed in TR is due to antiretinal autoimmune mechanisms.


Humoral antiretinal autoimmunity in TR was investigated by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on normal human cadaveric retina and by a human retinal S-antigen ELISA. 36 patients with TR were separated on clinical grounds into those with first recurrence of disease (n = 18) or those with multiple recurrences (n = 18). Patients were also segregated into those with active (n = 28) or quiescent disease (n = 8). Serum from 16 normal controls (six with positive toxoplasma serology and 10 without) with no evidence of eye disease and 12 patients with idiopathic retinal vasculitis (IRV) were also tested.


Sera from 34 of the 36 patients (94%) with TR demonstrated photoreceptor layer reactivity by IIF contrasting with six of 16 normal controls (p = < 0.001) and three of 12 IRV patients (p = < 0.001). Titres of antiphotoreceptor antibody were also higher among TR patients than controls. Sera from 27 of the 36 TR patients, 10 of 16 normals, and nine of 12 retinal vasculitis patients possessed anti-human retinal S-antigen antibodies at a titre of 1:400 or more as assessed by ELISA (p = > 0.05). Antiretinal autoantibody as detected by IIF did not run in parallel with S-antigen reactivity.


The data indicate that the extent of antiretinal reactivity within TR is not accounted for by anti-S-antigen antibodies alone. This remarkably high prevalence of antiphotoreceptor antibody in TR as opposed to that found in either healthy or disease controls suggest that these antibodies may be co-pathogenic in toxoplasma retinochoroiditis.

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