We examined a family in which two brothers with identical HLA typing have pars planitis with snowbanking. Immunopathological studies of one of their eyes showed that in the area of snowbanking over the pars plana there was mild to moderate inflammatory cell infiltration, consisting of mostly Pan T (Leu 4+) lymphocytes. The ratio of T helper/inducer to T suppressor/cytotoxic cells was approximately 10:1. Few macrophages (OKM1+) were identified. Very few B cells and no NK cells were observed. Some retinal vessels had a perivascular infiltration consisting of mostly T lymphocytes. Most of the inflammatory cells bore class II antigens (HLA-DR+), while T cells bore few IL-2 receptors (anti-TAC+). The snowbank consisted mainly of glial elements (GFAP+) and basement membrane components (type IV collagen and laminin) with the predominant cell the Müller cell (Mü+). A site of inflammation at the iris-ciliary body junction also stained for B cells (Leu 14+). These findings suggest that the snowbank could be formed by the glial elements of the peripheral retina. The chronic inflammation in pars planitis appears to consist of helper T cells, both in the pars plana, and the retinal vasculature.
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