Immune Privilege In The Eye

Dynamic immunoregulatory processes support immune privilege in the eye


Seedling surviving in the anterior chamber of a human eye

Inflammatory ocular diseases are an important cause of blindness and visual impairment. It has been recognized for over 100 years that many foreign tissue grafts enjoy prolonged and sometimes permanent survival in the anterior chamber of the eye. Nobel Laureate Sir Peter Medawar coined the term “immune privilege” to describe this unique immunologic property of the eye.

Antigens introduced into the anterior chamber elicit a unique form of immune regulation (anterior chamber-associated immune deviation = ACAID) that inhibits T cell-mediated inflammation and graft rejection.

Ongoing Studies

  • Which T regulatory cell (Treg) populations promote ocular immune privilege and enhance corneal allograft survival?
  • How does the proinflammatory cytokine interferon-γ (IFN-γ) promote the generation of Tregs in the eye?
  • How does this same cytokine promote the immune rejection of some intraocular tumors?
  • Can ocular Tregs be invoked to ameliorate immune-mediated diseases such as allergic conjunctivitis and allergic asthma?

Animal Models and Research Tools

  • Implantation and transplantation of various tumors, tissue grafts, allogeneic cells and soluble immunogens into the anterior chambers of gene knockout transgenic, and wild-type mice.
  • Battery of in vivo and in vitro assays for characterizing antigen-specific and antigen nonspecific Tregs.