May 2008
Volume 49, Issue 13
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   May 2008
Autoimmune Retinal Vasculitis, the 55 Kd Connection
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • C. E. Thirkill
    Ocular Immunology, Lab 1220, Surge III., University of California - Davis, Davis, California
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships  C.E. Thirkill, None.
  • Footnotes
    Support  Research to Preevent Blindness (RPB, and NEI core grant 1 P30 EY12576-04
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science May 2008, Vol.49, 4751. doi:
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      C. E. Thirkill; Autoimmune Retinal Vasculitis, the 55 Kd Connection. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2008;49(13):4751.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose: : Retinal vasculitis manifests in association with a variety of different diseases, some of which are suspected to include an autoimmune component. In most cases the cause and the pathologic process of vascular inflammation is not understood. This study sought evidence of any immunologic commonality that might implicate a common cause in the antibody activity of six patients presenting with indications of retinal vasculitis.Autoimmune diseases usually involve very few components of the total antigenic composition of the organ involved. Any immunologic commonality with the same vascular antigen might by inference give added reason to suspect autoimmunity in those who exhibit the same abnormality, and give cause to seek the source of the sensitization.

Methods: : Six idiopathic retinopathy patients were selected for further analysis when found by immuno-histochemistry on sectioned rhesus monkey eyes to exhibit antibody activity with the retinal-choroidal vasculature. Serum from the six was evaluated further on Western blots of an extract of rhesus monkey retina, and on an extract of in vitro cultivated Human Umbilical Vascular Endothelial Cells (HUVEC).

Results: : Antibody activity with components of the retinal-choroidal vasculature visualized by indirect-immunohistochemistry on sectioned eyes was found to correlate with a 55 kd protein resolved on Western blots of an extract of retina, and a protein of similar mass on blots of an extract of HUVEC.

Conclusions: : Retinopathy patients who experience a concomitant vasculitis and exhibit the immunologic commonality of a antibody activity with the 55 kd component of vascular endothelium may have experienced the same source of sensitization, i.e. a common antibody reaction implicates a common antigen. When the cause of the 55 kd reaction is identified it will enable appropriate steps to eliminate the source of sensitization, and adopt appropriate antigen-specific immunomodulations. The possibility of autoimmunity will be evaluated further to determine if a corresponding autoimmune reaction can be transmitted to experimental animals with the isolated 55 kd antigen, in accord with Witebsky's postulates that dictate the true nature of an autoantigen.The precise identity of the 55 kd vascular antigen will also be sought to compare this protein with those of other vascular antigens described in the abnormal immunologic activity of patients with recognized vasculitis-associated retinopathies, and those with disseminated vasculitis, and atherosclerosis.

Keywords: retina • autoimmune disease • vascular occlusion/vascular occlusive disease 

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