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L L Williams, H M Lew, B T Shannon, C T Singley, R B Chambers, F H Davidorf; Activated retinitis pigmentosa peripheral lymphocytes adhere to and alter cultured human retinal pigment epithelial cells.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1992;33(10):2848-2860.
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Interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) is an activation molecule that, when expressed on peripheral blood lymphocyte (PBL) membranes, indicates the secretion of IL-2 and initiation of an immune system activation cascade. Comparing the average of IL-2R expression in 34 patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) syndrome (561 +/- 282 cells/mm3; mean +/- standard deviation) with 35 age-matched normal subjects (194 +/- 39 cells/mm3), it was found that those with RP had greater numbers of IL-2R-positive cells (P less than 0.001). The increased amounts of IL-2R on PBL of 29 RP and the homotypic self-aggregation of RP PBL by phase and scanning electron microscopy led to the study of the interaction of RP PBL with cultured human postmortem retinal pigment epithelial cells (RPE). A direct correlation was found between the amount of IL-2R expression and the numbers of RP lymphocytes adhering to RPE monolayers. However, the adherence effect was not unique to RP syndrome but appeared to be a nonspecific result of lymphocyte activation. Greater adherence to RPE than normal also was observed in PBL from disease control subjects with elevated IL-2R values and in PBL stimulated by the mitogen, concanavalin A (Con-A). In addition, RPE monolayers were destroyed by Con-A-stimulated PBL that showed 95-98% IL-2R expression. Similar, but less serious effects, occurring in RPE cells after 1 wk's cocultivation with RP PBL, suggested that activated RP lymphocytes can be cytotoxic to RPE during prolonged contact. Because macrophage-like cells and class II major histocompatibility complex expression have been found in RP-affected retinas, immune-mediated cytopathologic effects may contribute to retinal degeneration in RP.
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