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Cora Verhagen, Felix Mor, J. Bart A. Kipp, Alex F. de Vos, Ruth van der Gaag, Irun R. Cohen; Experimental Autoimmune Keratitis Induced in Rats by Anti–Cornea T-cell Lines. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1999;40(10):2191-2198.
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purpose. Idiopathic inflammation of the cornea, keratitis, has been proposed to
result from an autoimmune process, but thus far no convenient animal
model of keratitis exists. An attempt was made to establish an
animal model for keratitis, to investigate possible autoimmune
methods. T-cell lines were established from lymph node cells removed from rats
immunized with bovine corneal epithelium (BCE) extract. After
restimulation in vitro with BCE or a specific corneal antigen, the
cells were transferred by intraperitoneal injection into naive rats,
rats subjected to total body irradiation, or rats in which only one eye
results. Neither direct immunization with corneal antigens nor transfer of
activated anti-corneal T-cells into naive rats gave any signs of
keratitis. Irradiation alone did not induce corneal inflammation.
Transfer of corneal-specific activated T cells into irradiated rats
produced keratitis starting around day 4 and culminating around day 8.
The disease was self-limiting and the severity dependent on the dose
and site of radiation. Keratitis was characterized by corneal haze,
conjunctival and episcleral hyperemia, episcleral hemorrhages,
chemosis, corneal infiltrates, and vascularization.
Immunohistochemistry showed T-cell and macrophage infiltration of
epithelium and stroma in the affected corneas.
conclusions. Thus, keratitis may be produced by T cells reactive to corneal
antigens, provided that the target tissue has been made susceptible by
irradiation. The effectiveness of T-cell vaccination in preventing
adoptive keratitis suggests that systemic as well as local tissue
factors may regulate the disease process.
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