Experimental autoimmune keratitis induced in rats by anti-cornea T-cell lines

Cora Verhagen, Felix Mor, J. Bart A. Kipp, Alex F. De Vos, Ruth Van Der Gaag, Irun R. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose. Idiopathic inflammation of the cornea, keratitis, has been proposed to result from an autoimmune process, but thus far no convenient animal model of keratitis exists. An attempt was made to establish an animal model for keratitis, to investigate possible autoimmune mechanisms. Methods. T-cell lines were established from lymph node cells removed from rats immunized with bovine corneal epithelium (BCE) extract. After restimulation in vitro with BCE or a specific corneal antigen, the cells were transferred by intraperitoneal injection into naive rats, rats subjected to total body irradiation, or rats in which only one eye was irradiated. Results. Neither direct immunization with corneal antigens nor transfer of activated anti- corneal T-cells into naive rats gave any signs of keratitis. Irradiation alone did not induce corneal inflammation. Transfer of corneal-specific activated T cells into irradiated rats produced keratitis starting around day 4 and culminating around day 8. The disease was self-limiting and the severity dependent on the dose and site of radiation. Keratitis was characterized by corneal haze, conjunctival and episcleral hyperemia, episcleral hemorrhages, chemosis, corneal infiltrates, and vascularization. Immunohistochemistry showed T-cell and macrophage infiltration of epithelium and stroma in the affected corneas. Conclusions. Thus, keratitis may be produced by T cells reactive to corneal antigens, provided that the target tissue has been made susceptible by irradiation. The effectiveness of T-cell vaccination in preventing adoptive keratitis suggests that systemic as well as local tissue factors may regulate the disease process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2191-2198
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
Volume40
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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