We present the first evidence that purified rhodopsin can induce experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) in monkeys. Injection of a highly purified lipid-free rhodopsin preparation provokes severe chorioretinitis with concomitant anterior uveitis. The onset of disease is earlier, its frequency is higher, and the inflammation is considerably more severe than in EAU induced under similar conditions by opsin. The first inflammatory cells are observed in the ciliary body and pars plana. Within a few days the inflammation extends into the anterior chamber, choroid, and retina. Retinitis predominates in the central area, while chorioretinitis is observed in the periphery, both accompanied by damage to and elimination of the photoreceptor cells. The monkeys develop high cellular and humoral immune responses against rhodopsin and opsin. The cellular response maximum just precedes the onset of EAU. This may indicate that cellular immunity has an important role in the pathogenesis of rhodopsin-induced EAU.
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