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J C Lai, A Fukushima, E F Wawrousek, M C Lobanoff, P Charukamnoetkanok, S J Smith-Gill, B P Vistica, R S Lee, C E Egwuagu, S M Whitcup, I Gery; Immunotolerance against a foreign antigen transgenically expressed in the lens.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1998;39(11):2049-2057.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
PURPOSE: To extend our knowledge concerning immunotolerance against autologous lens crystallins, transgenic (Tg) mice that express a foreign antigen in their lens were generated, and the immune response against the antigen in these mice was analyzed. METHODS: Conventional techniques were used to generate lines of Tg mice that express soluble (S-) or membrane-bound (M-) hen egg lysozyme (HEL) under the control of the alphaA-crystallin promoter. The presence of HEL in various organs was determined by the particle concentration fluorescence immunoassay (PCFIA), and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction technique was used to detect mRNA transcripts of the molecule. To examine the development of immunity (or tolerance), Tg mice and their wild-type controls were immunized with HEL (25 microg) in Freund's complete adjuvant and 14 days later were tested for immune response against the antigen. Cellular immunity was measured by the lymphocyte proliferation assay and cytokine production, and humoral immunity was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: Eyes of the high copy number M-HEL Tg mice were dystrophic, with disrupted lens, whereas no morphologic changes were detected in the eyes of the other Tg mouse lines. All Tg mice exhibited tolerance to HEL by their cellular and humoral immune compartments. The state of immunotolerance to HEL was retained in the Tg mice for as long as 10 months after removal of the main depot of this protein, by enucleation. Measurable amounts of HEL were found in the eyes of all Tg mice, but the protein could not be detected in the serum or in other organs by the sensitive PCFIA (with a threshold of 1 ng/ml). Yet, HEL mRNA was found in the thymus of the Tg mice, suggesting that minute amounts of the protein are expressed in this organ. CONCLUSIONS: The unresponsiveness to HEL in the Tg mice seems to be due to a "central" mechanism of tolerance, mediated by a minuscule amount of HEL in the thymus. Conversely, the much larger amounts of HEL in the peripheral depot, the eyes, play a minor role if any in the tolerogenic process. It is further proposed that a similar mechanism of central tolerance is responsible for the immunotolerance against autologous lens crystallins.
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