Ocular molecules and cells that regulate immune responses in situ.
Regulation of T cell-dependent immune responses is mediated in part by bone marrow-derived antigen presenting cells (APC) that (a) process and present antigens which engage the T cell receptor and (b) secrete cytokines that influence the threshold of T cell activation. The anterior chamber of the eye is lined by the corneal endothelium (which rests on a stroma and epithelium that is devoid of class II MHC + APC) and iris/ciliary body (which contain significant numbers of bone marrow-derived cells, one third of which are class II MHC +). When tested in vitro, these potential APCs fail to present antigens in a form that activates T cells. Moreover, iris/ciliary body cells actually suppress activation of T cells exposed to antigens on conventional APC. In addition, aqueous humor under normal circumstances contains factors (one of which is TGFB) that are potent inhibitors of antigen-driven T cell activation, but spare other aspects of T cell function. Evidence suggests that the bone marrow-derived cells in iris/ciliary body are the source of this factor. Thus, the anterior chamber contains powerful forces that can prevent induction and can suppress expression of T cell mediated immunity. It is proposed that these forces are responsible for immunologic privilege and anterior chamber associated immune deviation, and for suppressing pathologic proliferation and inflammation in the anterior segment of the eye.
Streilein, JW; Cousins, S; Williamson, JS
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