BACKGROUND/AIM Nasal administration of retinal antigens induces systemic tolerance which results in suppression of experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis (EAU) when subsequently exposed to antigen. The aim was to establish if tolerance induction alters retinal infiltrating leucocyte phenotype and cytokine profile in tolerised animals when there is significantly reduced tissue destruction despite immunisation with retinal antigen.
METHODS Female Lewis rats were tolerised by intranasal administration with retinal extract (RE) before immunisation with RE to induce EAU. Control animals were administered phosphate buffered saline (PBS) intranasally. Post immunisation, daily clinical responses were recorded and at the height of disease, retinas were removed and either infiltrating leucocytes isolated for flow cytometric phenotype assessment and intracellular cytokine production, or chorioretina processed for immunohistochemistry. Fellow eyes were assessed for cytokine mRNA by semiquantitative RT-PCR.
RESULTS Flow cytometric analysis showed that before clinical onset of EAU there is no evidence of macrophage infiltration and no significant difference in circulating T cell populations within the retina. By day 14 a reduced retinal infiltrate in tolerised animals was observed and in particular a reduction in numbers of “activated” (with respect to CD4 and MHC class II expression) macrophages. Immunohistochemistry confirmed these findings and additionally minimal rod outer segment destruction was observed histologically. Cytokine analysis revealed that both IL-10 mRNA and intracellular IL-10 production was increased in tolerised eyes 7 days post immunisation. Although by day 14 post immunisation, IL-10 production was equivalent in both groups, a reduced percentage of IFN-γ+ macrophages and IFN-γ+CD4+ T cells with increased percentage of IL-4+CD4+ T cells were observed in tolerised animals.
CONCLUSIONS Leucocytic infiltrate is not only reduced in number but its distinct phenotype compared with controls implies a reduced activation status of infiltrating monocytes to accompany increased IL-10 and reduced IFN-γ production in tolerised animals. This modulation may in turn contribute towards protection against target organ destruction in EAU.
- intranasal tolerance
- experimental autoimmune uveoretinitis
- flow cytometry
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