Visualization of Immune Responses in the Cornea.
The eye has become a useful site for the investigation and understanding of local and systemic immune responses. The ease of access and transparency of the cornea permits direct visualization of ocular structures, blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels, allowing for the tracking of normal and pathological biological processes in real time. As a window to the immune system, we have used the eye to dissect the mechanisms of corneal inflammatory reactions that include innate and adaptive immune responses. We have identified that the ocular microenvironment regulates these immune responses by recruiting different populations of inflammatory cells to the cornea through local production of selected chemokines. Moreover, crosstalk between T cells and macrophages is a common and crucial step in the development of ocular immune responses to corneal alloantigens. This review summarizes the data generated by our group using intravital fluorescent confocal microscopy to capture the tempo, magnitude, and function of innate and adaptive corneal immune responses.
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