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C Verhagen, R Den Heijer, L Broersma, A C Breebaart, A Kijlstra; Analysis of corneal inflammation following the injection of heterologous serum into the rat cornea.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1991;32(13):3238-3244.
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The immunopathologic response following the injection of various antigens into the rat cornea was evaluated. This reaction, known as Wessely's phenomenon, was believed to be primarily triggered by antibodies and complement activation. The keratitis model was originally described in rabbits, using heterologous serum or purified proteins. In rats only, heterologous serum induced corneal inflammation with the characteristics of Wessely's phenomenon, (ie, a quiescent period of several days between antigen injection and onset of clinical signs and corneal opacification). Using rats allowed us to characterize the cellular infiltrate with immunohistochemical methods. Marked infiltration of the cornea by macrophages was observed, as was infiltration by polymorphonuclear cells, although to a lesser extent. Furthermore, T lymphocytes of the helper phenotype were demonstrated. Antibodies to complement activation product C3c showed faint staining, whereas B lymphocytes and plasma cells were absent. In addition, inflammatory cells and ocular tissues, particularly the limbal and peripheral corneal epithelium, were found to express major histocompatibility complex class II antigens during the inflammatory response. After the inflammation had subsided, macrophages and T lymphocytes remained in the corneal stroma (at least until day 30). These findings suggest that antigen-induced keratitis in rats might be mediated, at least partially, by T helper lymphocytes.
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